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Here First
Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Here First

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2022


The number of Iowans who have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic has passed 10,000. Talks between Ingredion and the union that represents workers at the company's Cedar Rapids plant have broken down after company officials brought armed guards to a negotiating session this week. Plus, a new mural in Sioux City will celebrate Hispanic heritage in northwest Iowa.

Myths of Myria: A Live-Play D&D Podcast

On Today's Episode: Six heroes. Two Parties. Separately on the cusp of escaping their respective penitentiaries. How hard could it be? From the mind of Alan Way comes Myths of Myria, a brand new fantasy podcast featuring an incredible world brought to life using live-play sessions of Dungeons & Dragons. New episodes every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else you find your podcasts. L.A.S.+ subscribers receive early access to all episodes from a recording session every three weeks! Myths of Myria is produced and distributed by the L.A.S. Podcast Network in Cedar Rapids, IA. For more, visit LASPodcastNetwork.com. Subscribe to L.A.S.+ for just $10/month and get bonus episodes of this show, ad-free versions of every L.A.S. Podcast, pre-sale access to live events, early access to special podcasts and projects, and more benefits, all while support local Iowa creators and businesses. For more information and to get started, head to LASPodcastNetwork.com/plus.

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 20

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2022 4:05


This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Tuesday, September 20. Will Tuesday be the last angry gasp of Summer? According to the National Weather Service there will be a high of 96 degrees in the Cedar Rapids area on Tuesday. It will be sunny and clear all day, with a low settling in around 68 degrees on Tuesday night. Wednesday should see a high temperature 30 degrees cooler than Tuesday, and this cooler weather will carry on for the rest of the week. Inspired by the Green Bay Packers' five-year-old “Titletown” entertainment district, Iowa State University on Monday unveiled plans to develop 40 acres between its Iowa State Center arts complex, Hilton Coliseum, and Jack Trice football stadium into a destination https://cyclones.com/feature/cytown#vision (“CyTown.”) The ISU vision for the $200 million CyTown project involves a 135,000-square-foot development including a medical facility, retail space, offices, and luxury suites. The endeavor would include an outdoor public plaza and amphitheater, restaurants and pubs, a hotel and convention center. Development will happen over years and in stages via a series of projects — starting with $25 million in parking and infrastructure improvements, scheduled to go before the Board of Regents for approval in November. The board in June already gave Iowa State the OK to start planning that work, which involves constructing new parking with new lighting and installing new water, power, gas, phone, storm sewer, and sanitary lines able to support all the development Iowa State envisions. Iowa Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken denied allegations that he grabbed and kissed a former campaign staffer without her consent after the conservative news website Iowa Field Report detailed a police report alleging unwanted advances. According to the report, the person, assumed to be Franken, grabbed the collar of the vest of a former female campaign staffer in March and kissed her on the mouth after meeting for drinks in Des Moines. The assistant Polk County attorney found no criminal act had been established and closed the investigation as “unfounded.” No charges were filed. Franken, though, told reporters at a Social Security Works town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids on Monday that he met with former campaign staffer that night “at her request,” after she reportedly had been fired from his campaign, and "I had a glass of beer." Franken, however, repeatedly denied the allegations in the police report. “It never happened,” Franken, told The Gazette. Dozens of Iowa cities have annual hunts to control deer population within city limits. Hunters also can hunt on private land within the city limits if they have permission. Iowa City still is in the infancy of its own program, which dealt with early pushback from concerned citizens. Now it's gearing up for its third bowhunting season. As in past seasons, the city has a very low participation rate. As of now, only three bowhunters have signed up, Assistant City Manager Rachel Kilburg said. The number of deer harvested last year? Four. Residents who oppose the sharpshooting and bowhunting programs want to see non-lethal methods used, like contraception and relocation. But 2021 saw dozens of car accidents involving deer in Iowa City, totaling thousands of dollars in damage — more than double the 2020 totals. Before that, the number of accidents ranged from 51 to 58 betwen 2016 and 2019. According to a city memo from Kilburg, the last aerial deer count was “concerning.“

The Groove Life Podcast
(Cobble Hill & Caucho) Food, Family & Fieri ft. Carrie and Andy, owners of Cobble Hill & Caucho

The Groove Life Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2022 67:28


On Today's Episode: Shane and Micah talk with the owners of Cobble Hill and Caucho, Andy and Carrie, on why they decided to bring a slice of New York City to Cedar Rapids and how they provide an accessible fine dining experience to our community. New Website: GrooveLifePod.com Welcome to The Groove Life, a bi-weekly podcast from one of the Corridor's hardest rockers Shane Lunsford, joined by his daughter Micah, focused around good vibes and positivity - the things in life that make you groove. New episodes every other Monday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else you find your podcasts. Visit the website above for the Groove Life Spotify playlist! The Groove Life Podcast is produced and distributed by the L.A.S. Media Network in Cedar Rapids, IA. For more, visit LASMediaNetwork.com. Subscribe to L.A.S.+ for just $10/month and get bonus episodes of this show, ad-free versions of every L.A.S. Podcast, pre-sale access to live events, early access to special podcasts and projects, and more benefits, all while support local Iowa creators and businesses. For more information and to get started, head to LASPodcastNetwork.com/plus.

The Valmy
Austin Vernon - Energy Superabundance, Starship Missiles, & Finding Alpha

The Valmy

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2022 144:32


Podcast: The Lunar Society (LS 30 · TOP 5% )Episode: Austin Vernon - Energy Superabundance, Starship Missiles, & Finding AlphaRelease date: 2022-09-08Austin Vernon is an engineer working on a new method for carbon capture, and he has one of the most interesting blogs on the internet, where he writes about engineering, software, economics, and investing.We discuss how energy superabundance will change the world, how Starship can be turned into a kinetic weapon, why nuclear is overrated, blockchains, batteries, flying cars, finding alpha, & much more!Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast platform. Read the full transcript here.Subscribe to find out about future episodes!Follow Austin on Twitter. Follow me on Twitter for updates on future episodes.Please share if you enjoyed this episode! Helps out a ton!Timestamps(0:00:00) - Intro(0:01:53) - Starship as a Weapon(0:19:24) - Software Productivity(0:41:40) - Car Manufacturing(0:57:39) - Carbon Capture(1:16:53) - Energy Superabundance(1:25:09) - Storage for Cheap Energy(1:31:25) - Travel in Future(1:33:27) - Future Cities(1:39:58) - Flying Cars(1:43:26) - Carbon Shortage(1:48:03) - Nuclear(2:12:44) - Solar(2:14:44) - Alpha & Efficient Markets(2:22:51) - ConclusionTranscriptIntroDwarkesh Patel (00:00:00):Okay! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Austin Vernon who writes about engineering, software, economics, and investing on the internet, though not that much else is known about him. So Austin, do you want to give us a bit of info about your background? I know that the only thing the internet knows about you is this one little JPEG that you had to upload with your recent paper. But what about an identity reveal or I guess a little bit of a background reveal? Just to the extent that you're comfortable sharing.Austin Vernon (00:00:29):My degree is in chemical engineering and I've had a lifelong love for engineering as well as things like the Toyota Production System. I've also worked as a chemical engineer in a large processing facility where I've done a lot of petroleum engineering. I taught myself how to write software and now I'm working on more research and the early commercialization of CO2 electrolysis.Dwarkesh Patel (00:00:59):Okay yeah. I'm really interested in talking about all those things. The first question I have is from Alex Berger, who's the co-CEO of Open Philanthropy. When I asked on Twitter what I should ask you, he suggested that I should ask “Why so shady?” Famously you have kind of an anonymous personality, pseudonymous thing going on the internet. What's up with that?Austin Vernon (00:01:25):Yeah. I think he posted a tweet that said “I don't know who this guy is or if he's credible at all, but his stuff sure is interesting”. That really made me laugh. I thought that was hilarious. Fame just doesn't seem necessary, I think I'm fine with my ideas being well known and communicating, but I have less desire to be personally famous.Starship as a WeaponDwarkesh Patel (00:01:52):Gotcha, gotcha. I wanted to start off with a sexy topic, let's talk about using Starship as a kinetic weapon. I thought that was one of the more amusing posts you wrote. Do you want to talk more about how this would be possible?Austin Vernon (00:02:08):Well, I think the main thing with Starship is that you're taking a technology and you're making it about 100 times cheaper for cargo and 1000 times cheaper for people. When things like that happen that drastically, you're just looking at huge changes and it's really hard to anticipate what some of those can be when the change is that drastic. I think there's a lot of moon-based, Mars-based stuff that doesn't really catch the general public's eye. They also have trouble imagining some of the point-to-point travel that could be possible. But when you start talking about it as a weapon, then I think it lets people know they should be paying attention to this technology. And we certainly do not want to be second or third getting it. We should make sure that we're going to be first.Dwarkesh Patel (00:03:05):Yeah. I think you mentioned this in the post, but as recently as the '90s, the cost of sending one kilogram to space was around $20,000. More recently, SpaceX has brought it to $2,000. Lots of interesting questions pop up when you ask, “What will be possible once we get it down to $200 per kilogram to send into orbit?” One of them could be about how we might manufacture these weapons that are not conventional ballistics. Do you want to talk about why this might be an advancement over conventional ballistic weapons?Austin Vernon (00:03:37):Well, regular conventional ballistic weapons are extremely expensive. This is more like a bomb truck. But usually we think of B52 as the bomb truck and this could be even cheaper than the B52, delivering just mass on target. When you think about how expensive it is to fly a B52 from Barksdale in Louisiana all the way across the world.. you can do it from south Texas or Florida with the Starship and get more emissions per day and the fuel ends up being. When you go orbital, it takes a lot to get to orbit. But then once you're in orbit, your fuel consumption's pretty good. So over long distances, it has a lot of advantage. That's why the point-to-point works for longer distances.Austin Vernon (00:04:27):There's really a sweet spot with these weapons where you want it to be pretty accurate, but you also want it to be cheap. You're seeing that problem with Russia right now as they have some fancy parade style weapons that are really expensive, like multi-billion dollar cruise missiles, but they're missing that $5,000 guided artillery shell or that $20,000 JDM that you can just pit massive. Or the multiple launch rocket system, guided rockets. They're really short on all those because I think they had just had a limited amount of chips they could get from the US into Russia to make these advanced weapons.Austin Vernon (00:05:07):But yeah, so the Starship gives you just a platform to deliver. You could put JDMs in a shroud, or you could just have the iron unguided kinetic projectiles, and it just becomes impossible for a ship to launch missiles to intercept yours if your cost is so low, you can just overwhelm them.Dwarkesh Patel (00:05:29):Okay. There are a few terms there that neither I nor the audience might know. So what is JDM? What is shroud? And why are chips a bottleneck here? Why can't it just be any micro-controller?Austin Vernon (00:05:42):So JDM is Joint Direct Attack Munition. So what we did is we took all our Vietnam surplus bonds and we put this little fin-kit on it and it costs like $20,000, which is cheap for a weapon because the actual bond costs, I don't know, $3,000. And then it turns it into a guided weapon that, before you were probably lucky to get within 500 meters of a target, now you can get it in with two meters. So the number of missions you have to do with your planes and all that goes down by orders of magnitude. So it's an absolutely huge advantage in logistics and in just how much firepower you can put on a target. And we didn't even have to make new bombs, we just put these kits on all our old bombs.Austin Vernon (00:06:33):Let's see.. Yeah the chips are a problem. There's this organization called RUSI. I think they're in the UK, but they've been tearing down all these Russian weapons they found in Ukraine and they all have American chips in them. So technically, they're not supposed to be able to get these chips. And yet, Russia can't make a lot of its own chips. And especially not the specialized kinds you might want for guided weapons. So they've been somehow smuggling in chips from Americans to make their advanced weaponsDwarkesh Patel (00:07:03):What is special about these? As far as I'm aware, the trade with China is still going on and we get a lot of our chips manufactured from Taiwan or China. So why can't they do the same?Austin Vernon (00:07:14):It's the whole integration. It's not just the specific chip, but the board. They're more like PLCs where you almost have wired-in programming and they come with this ability to do the guidance and all that stuff. It all kind of has to work together. I think that's the way I understand it. I don't know. Maybe I don't have a really good answer for that one, but they're hard to replicate is what matters.Dwarkesh Patel (00:07:43):Okay that's interesting. Yeah, I guess that has a lot of interesting downstream effects, because for example, India buys a lot of its weapons from Russia. So if Russia doesn't have access to these, then other countries that buy from Russia won't have access to these either.Dwarkesh Patel (00:07:58):You had an interesting speculation in the post where you suggested that you could just keep these kinetic weapons in orbit, in a sort of Damocles state really, almost literally. That sounds like an incredibly scary and risky scenario where you could have orbital decay and you could have these kinetic weapons falling from the sky and destroying cities. Do you think this is what it will look like or could look like in 10 to 20 years?Austin Vernon (00:08:26):Well, yeah, so the advantage of having weapons on orbit is you can hit targets faster. So if you're launching the rocket from Florida, you're looking at maybe 30 minutes to get there and the target can move away in that time. Whereas if you're on orbit, you can have them spaced out to where you're hitting within a few minutes. So that's the advantage there.Austin Vernon (00:08:46):You really have to have a two stage system I think for most, because if you have a really aerodynamic rod that's going to give you really good performance in the low atmosphere, it'll end up going too fast and just burn up before it gets there. Tungsten's maybe the only thing that you could have that could go all the way through which is why I like the original concept of using these big tungsten rods the size of a telephone pole. But tungsten's pretty expensive. And the rod concept kind of limits what you can do.Austin Vernon (00:09:28):So a lot of these weapons will have, that's what I was talking about with the shroud, something that actually slows you down in the upper atmosphere. And then once you're at the velocity where you're not just going to melt, then you open it up and let it go. So if you actually had it fall from the sky, some may make it to the ground, but a lot would burn up. So a lot of the stuff that makes it to the ground is actually pretty light. It's stuff that can float and has a large surface area. Yeah, that's the whole thing with Starship. Or not Starship, but Starlink. All those satellites are meant to completely fall apart on de-orbit.Dwarkesh Patel (00:10:09):I see. One of the implications of that is that these may be less powerful than we might fear, because since kinetic energy is mass times velocity squared and there's an upper bound on the velocity (velocity being the component that grows the kinetic energy faster), then it suggests that you can upper bound the power these things will have. You know what I mean?Austin Vernon (00:10:32):Yeah, so even the tungsten rods. Sometimes people, they're not very good at physics, so they don't do the math. They think it's going to be a nuclear weapon, but it's really not. I think even the tungsten rod is like 10 tons of T&T or something. It's a big bomb, but it's not a super weapon.Austin Vernon (00:10:54):So I think I said in the post, it's about using advanced missiles where they're almost more defensive weapons so I can keep you from pitting your ship somewhere. Yeah I could try to bombard your cities, but I can't take ground with it. I can't even police sea lanes with it really. I'd still have to use regular ships if I had this air cover to go enforce the rules of the sea and stuff like that.Dwarkesh Patel (00:11:23):Yeah. You speculated in the post, I think, that you could load this up with shrapnel and then it could explode next to an incoming missile or an incoming aircraft. Could these get that accurate? Because that was surprising speculation to me.Austin Vernon (00:11:43):I think for ships, it's pretty... I was watching videos of how fast a ship can turn and stuff. If you're going to do an initial target on a ship to try to kill their radars, you'd want to do it above the ceiling of their missiles. So it's like, how much are they going to move between your release where you stop steering and that? The answer's maybe 1000 feet. So that's pretty simple because you just shrapnel the area.Austin Vernon (00:12:12):Targeting aircraft, you would be steering all the way in. I'd say it's doable, but it'd be pretty hard. You'd actually maybe want to even go slower than you would with the ship attack. You'd need a specialized package to attack the aircraft, but if you have enough synthetic aperture radar and stuff like that, you could see these aircraft using satellites and then guide the bomb in the whole way. You could even load heat seeking missiles into a package that unfurls right next to them and launch conventional missiles too, probably. It'd be pretty hard to do some of this stuff, but they're just the things you might be able to do if you put some effort into it.Dwarkesh Patel (00:12:57):Yeah. The reason I find this kind of speculation really interesting is because when you look at the modern weaponry that's used in conflicts, it just seems directly descendant from something you would've seen in World War II or something. If you think about how much warfare changed between 1900 and 1940, it's like, yeah, they're not even the same class of weapons anymore. So it's interesting to think about possibilities like these where the entire category of weapons has changed.Austin Vernon (00:13:33):You're right and that's because our physical technology hasn't changed that much. So it really has just made more sense to put better electronics in the same tanks. We haven't learned enough about tanks to build a new physical tank that's way better, so we just keep upgrading our existing tanks with better electronics. They're much more powerful, they're more accurate. A lot of times, they have longer range weapons and better sensors. So the tank looks the same, but it maybe has several times more killing power. But the Ukraine war right now, they're using a lot of 40, 50 year old weapons so that especially looks like that.Dwarkesh Patel (00:14:20):Yeah. Which kind of worries you if you think about the stockpiles our own military has. I'm not well educated on the topic, but I imagine that we don't have the newest of the new thing. We probably have maintained versions of decades old technology.Austin Vernon (00:14:35):We spend so much, we've got relatively... This kind of gets into debate about how ready our military is. For certain situations, it's more ready than others. I'd say in general, most people talking about it have the incentive to downplay our capabilities because they want more defense spending. There's lots of reasons. So I think we're probably more capable than what you might see from some editorial in The Hill or whatever. Us just sending a few weapons over to Ukraine and seeing how successful they've been at using them, I think, shows a little bit of that.Austin Vernon (00:15:18):There's so much uncertainty when it comes to fighting, especially when you're talking about a naval engagement, where we don't just don't have that many ships in general… you can have some bad luck. So I think you always want to be a little bit wary. You don't want to get overconfident.Dwarkesh Patel (00:15:37):Yeah. And if the offensive tech we sent to Ukraine is potentially better than the defensive tech, it's very possible that even a ballistic missile that China or Russia could launch would sink a battleship and then kill the 2,000 or 1,000 whatever soldiers that are on board. Or I guess, I don't know, you think this opens up avenues for defensive tech as well?Austin Vernon (00:16:03):Yeah––generally the consensus is that defensive technology has improved much more recently than offensive technology. This whole strategy China has is something they call anti-access/area denial, A2/AD. That's basically just how missiles have gotten better because the sensors on missiles have gotten better. So they can keep our ships from getting close to them but they can't really challenge us in Hawaii or something. And it really goes both ways, I think people forget that. So yeah, it's hard for us to get close to China, but Taiwan has a lot of missiles with these new sensors as well. So I think it's probably tougher for China to do it close to Taiwan than most people would say.Dwarkesh Patel (00:16:55):Oh, interesting. Yeah, can you talk more about that? Because every time I read about this, people are saying that if China wanted to, they could knock out Taiwan's defenses in a short amount of time and take it over. Yeah, so can you talk about why that's not possible?Austin Vernon (00:17:10):Well, it might be, but I think it's a guess of the uncertainty [inaudible 00:17:14]. Taiwan has actually one of the largest defense budgets in the world and they've recently been upping it. I think they spend, I don't know, $25 billion a year and they added an extra $5 billion. And they've been buying a lot of anti-ship missiles, a lot of air defense missiles.. Stuff that Ukraine could only dream of. I think Ukraine's military budget was $2 billion and they have a professional army. And then the other thing is Taiwan's an island, whereas Russia could just roll over the land border into Ukraine.Austin Vernon (00:17:44):There's just been very few successful amphibious landings in history. The most recent ones were all the Americans in World War II and Korea. So the challenge there is just... It's kind of on China to execute perfectly and do that. So if they had perfect execution, then possibly it would be feasible. But if their air defenses on their ships aren't quite as good as we think they could possibly be, then they could also end up with half their fleet underwater within 10 hours.Dwarkesh Patel (00:18:20):Interesting. And how has your view of Taiwan's defensive capabilities changed... How has the Ukraine conflict updated your opinion on what might happen?Austin Vernon (00:18:29):I didn't really know how much about it. And then I started looking at Wikipedia and stuff and all this stuff they're doing. Taiwan just has a lot of modern platforms like F16s with our anti-ship missiles. They actually have a lot of their own. They have indigenous fighter bombers, indigenous anti-ship missiles because they're worried we might not always sell them to them.Austin Vernon (00:18:54):They've even recently gotten these long range cruise missiles that could possibly target leadership in Beijing. So I think that makes it uncomfortable for the Chinese leadership. If you attack them, you're going to have to go live in a bunker. But again, I'm not a full-time military analyst or something, so there's a lot of uncertainty around what I'm saying. It's not a given that China's just going to roll over them.Software ProductivityDwarkesh Patel (00:19:22):Okay. That's comforting to hear. Let's talk about an area where I have a little bit of a point of contact. I thought your blog post about software and the inability of it to increase productivity numbers, I thought that was super fascinating. So before I ask you questions about it, do you want to lay out the thesis there?Austin Vernon (00:19:43):Yeah. So if there's one post I kind of felt like I caught lightning in a bottle on, it's that one. Everything I wanted to put in, it just fit together perfectly, which is usually not the case.Austin Vernon (00:19:55):I think the idea is that the world's so complex and we really underestimate that complexity. If you're going to digitize processes and automate them and stuff, you have to capture all that complexity basically at the bit level, and that's extremely difficult. And then you also have diminishing returns where the easily automatable stuff goes first and then it's increasing corner cases to get to the end, so you just have to go through more and more code basically. We don't see runaway productivity growth from software because we're fighting all this increasing complexity.Dwarkesh Patel (00:20:39):Yeah. Have you heard of the waterbed theory of complexity by the way?Austin Vernon (00:20:42):I don't think so.Dwarkesh Patel (00:20:44):Okay. It's something that comes up in compiler design: the idea is that there's a fixed amount of complexity in a system. If you try to reduce it, what you'll end up doing is just you'll end up migrating the complexity elsewhere. I think an example that's used of this is when they try to program languages that are not type safe, something like Python. You can say, “oh, it's a less complex language”, but really, you've added complexity when, I don't know, two different types of numbers are interacting like a float and an int. As your program grows, that complexity exponentially grows along with all the things that could go wrong when you're making two things interact in a way that you were expecting not to. So yeah, the idea is you can just choose where to have your complexity, but you can't get rid of that complexity.Austin Vernon (00:21:38):I think that's kind of an interesting thing when you start pairing it with management theory... when you add up all the factors, the most complex thing you're doing is high volume car manufacturing. And so we got a lot of innovations and organization from car manufacturers like the assembly line. Then you had Sloan at GM basically creating the way the modern corporation is run, then you have the Toyota Production System.Austin Vernon (00:22:11):But arguably now, creating software is actually the most complex thing we do. So there's all these kinds of squishy concepts that underlie things like the Toyota Production System that softwares had to learn and reimagine and adopt and you see that with Agile where, “oh, we can't have long release times. We need to be releasing every day,” which means we're limiting inventory there.Austin Vernon (00:22:42):There's a whole thing especially that's showing up in software that existed in carbon manufacturing where you're talking about reducing communication. So Jeff Bezos kind of now famously said, "I want to reduce communication," which is counterintuitive to a lot of people. This is age-old in car manufacturing where Toyota has these cards that go between workstations and they tell you what to do. So people normally think of them as limiting inventory, but it also tells the worker exactly what they're supposed to be doing at what pace, at what time. The assembly line is like that too. You just know what to do because you're standing there and there's a part here and it needs to go on there, and it comes by at the pace you're supposed to work at.Austin Vernon (00:23:29):It's so extreme that there's this famous paper, by List, Syverson and Levitt. They went to a car factory and studied how defects propagated in cars and stuff. Once a car factory gets up and running, it doesn't matter what workers you put in there, if workers are sick or you get new workers, the defect rate is the same. So all the knowledge is built into the manufacturing line.Austin Vernon (00:23:59):There's these concepts around idiot-proofing and everything that are very similar to what you'll see. You had Uncle Bob on here. So Uncle Bob says only put one input into a function and stuff like that because you'll mix them up otherwise. The Japanese call it poka-yoke. You make it where you can't mess it up. And that's another way to reduce communication, and then software, of course you have APIs.Austin Vernon (00:24:28):So I'm really interested in this overall concept of reducing communication, and reducing how much cooperation and everything we need to run the economy.Dwarkesh Patel (00:24:41):Right. Right. Speaking of the Toyota Production System, one thing they do to reduce that defect rate is if there's a problem, all the workers in that chain are forced to go to the place where the defect problem is and fix it before doing anything else. The idea there is that this will give them context to understand what the problem was and how to make sure it doesn't happen again. It also prevents a build up of inventory in a way that keeps making these defects happen or just keeps accumulating inventory before the place that can fix the defects is able to take care of them.Austin Vernon (00:25:17):Right. Yeah, yeah. Exactly.Dwarkesh Patel (00:25:19):Yeah. But I think one interesting thing about software and complexity is that software is a place where complexity is the highest in our world right now but software gives you the choice to interface with the complexity you want to interface with. I guess that's just part of specialization in general, but you could say for example that a machine learning model is really complex, but ideally, you get to a place where that's the only kind of complexity you have to deal with. You're not having to deal with the complexity of “How is this program compiled? How are the libraries that I'm using? How are they built?” You can fine tune and work on the complexity you need to work on.Dwarkesh Patel (00:26:05):It's similar to app development. Byrne Hobart has this blog post about Stripe as solid state. The basic idea is that Stripe hides all the complexity of the financial system: it charges a higher fee, but you can just treat it as an abstraction of a tithe you have to pay, and it'll just take care of that entire process so you can focus on your comparative advantage.Austin Vernon (00:26:29):It's really actually very similar in car manufacturing and the Toyota Production System if you really get into it. It's very much the same conceptual framework. There's this whole idea in Toyota Production System, everyone works at the same pace, which you kind of talked about. But also, your work content is the same. There's no room for not standardizing a way you're going to do things. So everyone gets together and they're like, “All right, we're going to do this certain part. We're going to put it together this certain way at this little micro station. And it's going to be the same way every time.” That's part of how they're reducing the defect rates. If your assembly process is longer than what your time allotment is to stay in touch with the rest of the process, then you just keep breaking it down into smaller pieces. So through this, each person only has to know a very small part of it.Austin Vernon (00:27:33):The overall engineering team has all sorts of strategies and all sorts of tools to help them break up all these processes into very small parts and make it all hold together. It's still very, very hard, but it's kind of a lot of the same ideas because you're taking away the complexity of making a $30,000 car or 30,000 part car where everyone's just focusing on their one little part and they don't care what someone else is doing.Dwarkesh Patel (00:28:06):Yeah. But the interesting thing is that it seems like you need one person who knows how everything fits together. Because from what I remember, one of the tenets of the Toyota Production System was you need to have a global view. So, in that book, was it the machine or the other one, the Toyota Production System book? But anyways, they were talking about examples where people would try to optimize for local efficiencies. I think they especially pointed to Ford and GM for trying to do this where they would try to make machines run all the time. And locally, you could say that, “oh this machine or process is super efficient. It's always outputting stuff.” But it ignores how that added inventory or that process had a bad consequence for the whole system.Dwarkesh Patel (00:28:50):And so it's interesting if you look at a company like Tesla that's able to do this really well. Tesla is run like a monarchy and this one guy has this total global view of how the entire process is supposed to run and where you have these inefficiencies.. You had some great examples of this in the blog post. I think one of the examples is this guy (the author) goes to this factory and he asks, "Is this an efficient factory?" And the guy's like, "Yeah, this is totally efficient. There's nothing we can do, adopting the Toyota way, to make this more efficient."Dwarkesh Patel (00:29:22):And so then he's like, "Okay, let me look." And he finds that they're treating steel in some way, and the main process does only take a couple of seconds, but some local manager decided that it would be more efficient to ship their parts out, to get the next stage of the process done somewhere else. So this is locally cheaper, but the result is that it takes weeks to get these parts shipped out and get them back. Which means that the actual time that the parts spend getting processed is 0.1% of the time, making the whole process super inefficient. So I don't know, it seems like the implication is you need a very monarchical structure, with one person who has a total view, in order to run such a system. Or am I getting that wrong?Austin Vernon (00:30:12):Not necessarily. I mean, you do have to make sure you're not optimizing locally, but I think it's the same. You have that same constraint in software, but I think a lot of times people are just running over it because processing has been getting so much cheaper. People are expensive, so if you could save development time, it just ends up the trade offs are different when you're talking about the tyranny of physical items and stuff like that, the constraints get a little more severe. But I think you have the same overall. You still have to fight local optimization, but the level you have to is probably different with physical goods.Austin Vernon (00:30:55):I was thinking about the smart grid situation from a software perspective, and there's this problem where, okay, I'm putting my solar farm here and it's impacting somewhere far away, and that's then creating these really high upgrade costs, that cost two or three times more than my solar farm. Well, the obvious thing would be, if you're doing software, is like you're going to break all these up into smaller sections, and then you wouldn't be impacting each other and all that, and you could work and focus on your own little thing.Austin Vernon (00:31:29):But the problem with that is if you're going to disconnect these areas of the grid, the equipment to do that is extremely expensive. It's not like I'm just going to hit a new tab and open a new file and start writing a new function. And not only that, but you still have to actually coordinate how this equipment is going to operate. So if you just let the grid flow as it does, everyone knows what's going to happen because they could just calculate the physics. If you start adding in all these checkpoints where humans are doing stuff, then you have to actually interface with the humans, and the amount of things that can happen really starts going up. So it's actually a really bad idea to try to cart all this stuff off, just because of the reality of the physical laws and the equipment you need and everything like that.Dwarkesh Patel (00:32:22):Okay. Interesting. And then I think you have a similar Coasean argument in your software post about why vertically integrating software is beneficial. Do you want to explain that thesis?Austin Vernon (00:32:34):Yeah. I think it actually gets to what we're talking about here, where it allows you to avoid the local optimization. Because a lot of times you're trying to build a software MVP, and you're tying together a few services… they don't do quite what you need, so if you try to scale that, it would just break. But if you're going to take a really complex process, like car manufacturing or retail distribution, or the home buying process or something, you really have to vertically integrate it to be able to create a decent end-to-end experience and avoid that local optimization.Austin Vernon (00:33:20):And it's just very hard otherwise, because you just can't coordinate effectively if you have 10 different vendors trying to do all the same thing. You end up in just constant vendor meetings, where you're trying to decide what the specs are or something instead of giving someone the authority, or giving a team the authority to just start building stuff. Then if you look at these companies, they have to implement these somewhat decentralized processes when they get too complex, but at least they have control over how they're interfacing with each other. Walmart, as the vendors, control their own stock. They don't tell the vendor, "We need X parts." It's just like, it's on you to make sure your shelf is stocked.Dwarkesh Patel (00:34:07):Yeah. Yeah. So what was really interesting to me about this part of the post was, I don't know, I guess I had heard of this vision of we're software setting, where everybody will have a software as a service company, and they'll all be interfacing with each other in some sort of cycle where they're all just calling each other's APIs. And yeah, basically everybody and their mother would have a SAAS company. The implication here was, from your argument, that given the necessity of integrating all those complexity vertically in a coherent way, then the winners in software should end up being a few big companies, right? They compete with each other, but still...Austin Vernon (00:34:49):I think that's especially true when you're talking about combining bits and apps. Maybe less true for pure software. The physical world is just so much more complex, and so the constraints it creates are pretty extreme, compared to like... you could maybe get away with more of everyone and their mom having an API in a pure software world.Dwarkesh Patel (00:35:14):Right. Yeah. I guess, you might think that even in the physical world, given that people really need to focus on their comparative advantage, they would just try to outsource the software parts to these APIs. But is there any scenario where the learning curve for people who are not in the firm can be fast enough that they can keep up with the complexity? Because there's huge gains for specialization and competition that go away if this is the world we're forced to live in. And then I guess we have a lot of counter examples, or I guess we have a lot of examples of what you're talking about. Like Apple is the biggest market cap in the world, right? And famously they're super vertically integrated. And yeah, obviously their thing is combining hardware and software. But yeah, is there any world in which it can keep that kind of benefit, but have it be within multiple firms?Austin Vernon (00:36:10):This is a post I've got on my list I want to write. The blockchain application, which excites me personally the most, is reimagining enterprise software. Because the things you're talking about, like hard typing and APIs are just basically built into some of these protocols. So I think it just really has a lot of exciting implications for how much you can decentralize software development. But the thing is, you can still do that within the firm. So I think I mentioned this, if the government's going to place all these rules on the edge of the firm, it makes transactions with other firms expensive. So a few internal transactions can be cheaper, because they're avoiding the government reporting and taxes and all that kind of stuff. So I think you'd have to think about how these technologies can reduce transaction costs overall and decentralize that, but also what are the costs between firms?Dwarkesh Patel (00:37:22):Yeah, it's really interesting if the costs are logistic, or if they're based on the knowledge that is housed, as you were talking about, within a factory or something. Because if it is just logistical and stuff, like you had to report any outside transactions, then it does imply that those technology blockchain could help. But if it is just that you need to be in the same office, and if you're not, then you're going to have a hard time keeping up with what the new requirements for the API are, then maybe it's that, yeah, maybe the inevitability is that you'll have these big firms that are able to vertically integrate.Austin Vernon (00:37:59):Yeah, for these big firms to survive, they have to be somewhat decentralized within them. So I think you have... you're going to the same place as just how are we viewing it, what's our perception? So even if it's a giant corporation, it's going to have very independent business units as opposed to something like a 1950s corporation.Dwarkesh Patel (00:38:29):Yeah. Byrne Hobart, by the way, has this really interesting post that you might enjoy reading while you're writing that post. It's type safe communications, and it's about that Bezos thing, about his strict style for how to communicate and how little to communicate. There's many examples in Amazon protocols where you have to... the only way you can put in this report, is in this place you had to give a number. You can't just say, "This is very likely," you had to say like, "We project X percent increase," or whatever. So it has to be a percent. And there's many other cases where they're strict about what type definition you can have in written reports or something. It has kind of the same consequence that type strict languages have, which is that you can keep track of what the value is through the entire chain of the flow of control.Austin Vernon (00:39:22):You've got to keep work content standardized.Dwarkesh Patel (00:39:26):So we've been hinting at the Coasean analysis to this. I think we just talked about it indirectly, but for the people who might not know, Coase has this paper called The Theory of Firms, and he's trying to explain why we have firms at all. Why not just have everybody compete in the open market for employment, for anything? Why do we have jobs? Why not just have... you can just hire a secretary by the day or something.Dwarkesh Patel (00:39:51):And the conclusion he comes to is that by having a firm you're reducing the transaction cost. So people will have the same knowledge about what needs to get done, obviously you're reducing the transaction cost of contracting, finding labor, blah, blah, blah. And so the conclusion it comes to is the more the transaction costs are reduced within people in a firm, as compared to the transaction cost between different firms, the bigger firms will get. So I guess that's why the implication of your argument was that there should be bigger tech firms, right?Austin Vernon (00:40:27):Yes, yes, definitely. Because they can basically decrease the transaction costs faster within, and then even at the limit, if you have large transaction costs outside the firm, between other firms that are artificially imposed, then it will make firms bigger.Dwarkesh Patel (00:40:45):What does the world look like in that scenario? So would it just be these Japanese companies, these huge conglomerates who are just... you rise through the ranks, from the age of 20 until you die? Is that what software will turn into?Austin Vernon (00:40:59):It could be. I mean, I think it will be lots of very large companies, unless there's some kind of change in inner firm transaction costs. And again, that could possibly come from blockchain like technology, but you probably also need better regulation to make that cheaper, and then you would have smaller firms. But again, in the end, it doesn't really matter. You'd be working in your little unit of the big bank of corporate, or whatever. So I don't know what that would look like on a personal level.Car ManufacturingDwarkesh Patel (00:41:40):Yeah. Okay. So speaking of these Japanese companies, let's talk about car manufacturing and everything involved there. Yeah, so we kind of hinted at a few elements of the Toyota way and production earlier, but do you want to give a brief overview of what that is, so we can compare it to potentially other systems?Austin Vernon (00:42:02):I think all these kinds of lean Toyota process systems, they do have a lot of similarities, where mostly you want to even-out your production, so you're producing very consistently, and you want to break it into small steps and you want to limit the amount of inventory you have in your system. When you do this, it makes it easy to see how the process is running and limit defects. And the ultimate is you're really trying to reduce defects, because they're very expensive. It's a little bit hard to summarize. I think that's my best shot at it there, quickly off the top of my head.Dwarkesh Patel (00:42:49):Yeah. The interesting thing about the Toyota system, so at least when the machine was released, is they talk about... that book was released I think the nineties, and they went to the history of Toyota, and one of the interesting things they talked about was there was a brief time where the company ran... I think, was this after World War II? But anyways, the company ran into some troubles. They needed to layoff people to not go bankrupt. They had much more debt on books than they had assets. So yeah, they wanted to layoff people, but obviously the people were not happy about this, so there were violent protests about this. And in fact I think the US written constitution gave strong protections to labor that they hadn't had before, which gave labor an even stronger hand here.Dwarkesh Patel (00:43:42):So anyway, Toyota came to this agreement with the unions that they'd be allowed to do this one time layoff to get the company on the right track, but afterwards they could never lay somebody off. Which would mean that a person who works at Toyota works there from the time they graduate college or high school till they die. Right? I don't know, that's super intense in a culture. I mean, in software, where you have the average tenure in a company's one year, the difference is so much.Dwarkesh Patel (00:44:13):And there's so many potential benefits here, I guess a lot of drawbacks too. But one is, obviously if you're talking in a time scale of 50 years, rather than one year, the incentives are more aligned between the company and the person. Because anything you could do in one year is not going to have a huge impact on your stock options in that amount of time. But if this company's your retirement plan, then you have a much stronger incentive to make sure that things at this company run well, which means you're probably optimizing for the company's long term cash flow yourself. And also, there's obviously benefits to having that knowledge built up in the firm from people who have been there for a long time. But yeah, that was an interesting difference. One of the interesting differences, at least.Austin Vernon (00:45:00):I mean, I think there's diminishing returns to how long your tenure's going to be. Maybe one year's too short, but there's a certain extent to where, if you grow faster than your role at the company, then it's time to switch. It's going to depend on the person, but maybe five years is a good number. And so if you're not getting promoted within the firm, then your human capital's being wasted, because you could go somewhere else and have more responsibility and perform better for them. Another interesting thing about that story, is almost all lean turnarounds, where they're like, we're going to implement something like Toyota production system, they come with no layoff promises. Because if you're going to increase productivity, that's when everyone's like, "Oh gosh, I'm going to get laid off." So instead you have to increase output and take more market share, is what you do.Dwarkesh Patel (00:46:00):It's kind of like burning your bridges, right? So this is the only way.Austin Vernon (00:46:05):The process really requires complete buy-in, because a lot of your ideas for how you're going to standardize work content come from your line workers, because that's what they're doing every day. So if you don't have their buy-in, then it's going to fail. So that's why it's really necessary to have those kinds of clauses.Dwarkesh Patel (00:46:22):Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. I think it was in your post where you said, if somebody makes their process more efficient, and therefore they're getting more work allotted to them, then obviously they're going to stop doing that. Right? Which means that, I don't know, do you ought to give more downtime to your best workers or something or the people who are most creative in your company?Austin Vernon (00:46:48):I was just going to say, if you're a worker at a plant, then a lot of times for that level of employee, actually small rewards work pretty well. A lot of people on drilling rigs used to give the guys that met certain targets $100 Walmart gift cards. So sometimes small, it's a reward, new ideas, stuff like that works.Austin Vernon (00:47:15):But because the whole system has to grow together, if you just improve one part of the process, it may not help you. You have to be improving all the right processes so normally it's much more collaborative. There's some engineer that's looking at it and like, "All right, this is where we're struggling," or "We have our defects here." And then you go get together with that supervisor and the workers in that area, then you all figure out what improvements could be together. Because usually the people already know. This is like, you see a problem at the top, and you're just now realizing it. Then you go talk to the people doing the work, and they're like, "Oh yeah, I tried to tell you about that two weeks ago, man." And then you figure out a better process from there.Dwarkesh Patel (00:47:58):Based on your recommendation, and Steven Malina's recommendation, I recently read The Goal. And after reading the book, I'm much more understanding of the value that consultants bring to companies, potentially. Because before you could think, “What does a 21 year old, who just graduated college, know about manufacturing? What are they going to tell this plant that they didn't already know? How could they possibly be adding value?” And afterwards, it occurred to me that there's so many abstract concepts that are necessary to understand in order to be able to increase your throughput. So now I guess I can see how somebody who's generically smart but doesn't have that much industry knowledge might be able to contribute to a plan and value consultants could be bringing.Austin Vernon (00:48:43):I think this applies to consultants or young engineers. A lot of times you put young engineers just right in the thick of it, working in production or process right on the line, where you're talking to the workers the most. And there's several advantages to that. One, the engineer learns faster, because they're actually seeing the real process, and the other is there's easy opportunities for them to still have a positive impact on the business, because there's $100 bills laying on the ground just from going up and talking to your workers and learning about stuff and figuring out problems they might be having and finding out things like that that could help you lower cost. I think there's a lot of consultants that... I don't know how the industry goes, but I would guess there's... I know Accenture has 600,000 employees. I don't know if that many, but it's just a large number, and a lot are doing more basic tasks and there are some people that are doing the more high level stuff, but it's probably a lot less.Dwarkesh Patel (00:49:51):Yeah. Yeah. There was a quote from one of those books that said, "At Toyota we don't consider you an engineer unless you need to wash your hands before you can have lunch." Yeah. Okay. So in your blog post about car manufacturing, you talk about Tesla. But what was really interesting is that in a footnote, I think you mentioned that you bought Tesla stocks in 2014, which also might be interesting to talk about again when we go to the market and alpha part. But anyways. Okay. And then you talk about Tesla using something called metal manufacturing. So first of all, how did you know in 2014 that Tesla was headed here? And what is metal manufacturing and how does it differ from the Toyota production system?Austin Vernon (00:50:42):Yeah. So yeah, I just was goofing around and made that up. Someone actually emailed me and they were like, "Hey, what is this metal manufacturing? I want to learn more about this." It's like, "Well, sorry, I just kind of made that up, because I thought it sounded funny." But yeah, I think it's really the idea that there's this guy, Dimming, and he found a lot of the same ideas that Toyota ended up implementing, and Toyota respected his ideas a lot. America never really got fully on board with this in manufacturing. Of course it's software people that are coming and implementing this and manufacturing now which is like the real American way of doing things.Austin Vernon (00:51:32):Because when you look at these manufacturing processes, the best place to save money and optimize is before you ever build the process or the plant. It's very early on. So I think if there's a criticism of Toyota, it's that they're optimizing too late and they're not creative enough in their production technology and stuff. They're very conservative, and that's why they have hydrogen cars and not battery cars, even though they came out with the Prius, which was the first large sales hybrid.Austin Vernon (00:52:12):So yeah, I think what Tesla's doing with really just making Dimming's ideas our own and really just Americanizing it with like, "Oh, well, we want to cast this, because that would be easier." Well, we can't, because we don't have an alloy. "We'll invent the alloy." I love it. It's great. Mostly, I love Tesla because they do such... I agree with their engineering principles. So I didn't know that the company would come to be so valuable. It's just, I was just always reading their stock reports and stuff so I was like, "Well, at least I need to buy some stock so that I have a justification for spending all this time reading their 10 Ks."Dwarkesh Patel (00:52:53):I want to get a little bit more in detail about the exact difference here. So lean production, I guess, is they're able to produce their cars without defects and with matching demand or whatever. But what is it about their system that prevents them from making the kinds of innovations that Tesla is able to make?Austin Vernon (00:53:16):It's just too incremental. It's so hard to get these processes working. So the faster you change things, it becomes very, very difficult to change the whole system. So one of the advantages Tesla has is, well, if you're making electric cars, you have just a lot less parts. So that makes it easier. And once you start doing the really hard work of basically digitizing stuff, like they don't have speed limit dials, you start just removing parts from the thing and you can actually then start increasing your rate of change even faster.Austin Vernon (00:53:55):It makes it harder to get behind if you have these old dinosaur processes. But I think there's a YouTube channel called The Limiting Factor, and he actually went into the detail of numbers on what it costs for Tesla to do their giga-casting, which saves tons of parts and deletes zillions of thousands of robots from their process. If you already have an existing stamping line and all that, where you're just changing the dyes based on your model, then it doesn't make sense to switch to the casting. But if you're building new factories, like Tesla is, well, then it makes sense to do the casting and you can build new factories very cheaply and comparatively and much easier. So there's a little bit of... they just have lots of technical data, I guess you could say, in a software sense.Dwarkesh Patel (00:54:47):Yeah. That's super interesting. The analogy is actually quite... it's like, Microsoft has probably tens of thousands of software engineers who are just basically servicing its technical debt and making sure that the old systems run properly, whereas a new company like Tesla doesn't have to deal with that. The thing that's super interesting about Tesla is like, Tesla's market cap is way over a trillion, right? And then Toyota's is 300 billion. And Tesla is such a new company. The fact that you have this Toyota, which is legendary for its production system, and this company that's less than two decades old is worth many times more, it's kind of funny.Austin Vernon (00:55:32):Yeah. I would say that, in that measure, I don't like market cap. You need to use enterprise value. These old car companies have so much debt, that if you look at enterprise value, it's not so jarring. Literally, I don't know, I can't remember what GM's worth, like 40 billion or something, and then they have $120 billion in debt. So their enterprise value is five times more than their market cap.Dwarkesh Patel (00:56:02):What is enterprise value?Austin Vernon (00:56:03):Enterprise value is basically what is the value of the actual company before you have any claims on it. It's the market cap plus your debt. But basically, if you're the equity holder and the company gets sold, you have to pay the debt first. So you only get the value of what's left over after the debt. So that's why market cap is... when Tesla has very little debt and a lot of market cap, and then these other guys have a lot of debt with less market cap, it skews the comparison.Dwarkesh Patel (00:56:34):Yeah, and one of the interesting things, it's similar to your post on software, is that it seems like one of the interesting themes across your work is automating processes often leads to decreased eventual throughput, because you're probably adding capacity in a place that you're deciding excess capacity, and you're also making the money part of your operation less efficient by have it interface with this automated part. It sounds like there's a similar story there with car manufacturing, right?Austin Vernon (00:57:08):Yeah. I think if we tie it back into what we were talking about earlier, automation promotes local optimization and premature optimization. So a lot of times it's better to figure out, instead of automating a process to make a really hard to make part, you should just figure out how to make that part easy to make. Then after you do that, then it may not even make sense to automate it anymore. Or get rid of it all together, then you just delete all those robots.Austin's Carbon Capture ProjectDwarkesh Patel (00:57:37):Yeah. Yeah, that's interesting. Okay. So let's talk about the project that you're working on right now, the CO2 electrolysis. Do you want to explain what this is, and what your current approach is? What is going on here?Austin Vernon (00:57:55):Yeah, so I think just overall, electrofuels right now are super underrated, because you're about to get hopefully some very cheap electricity from solar, or it could be, maybe, some land. If we get really lucky, possibly some nuclear, geothermal. It'll just make sense to create liquid fuels, or natural gas, or something just from electricity and air, essentially.Austin Vernon (00:58:25):There's a whole spectrum of ways to do this, so O2 electrolysis is one of those. Basically, you take water, electricity, and CO2, and a catalyst. And then, you make more complex molecules, like carbon monoxide, or formic acid, or ethylene, or ethanol, or methane or methine. Those are all options. But it's important to point out that, right now, I think if you added up all the CO2 electrolyzers in the world, you'd be measuring their output and kilograms per day. We make millions of tons per day off of the products I just mentioned. So there's a massive scale up if it's going to have a wider impact.Austin Vernon (00:59:15):So there's some debate. I think the debate for the whole electrofuels sector is: How much are you going to do in the electrolyzer? One company whose approach I really like is Terraform Industries. They want to make methane, which is the main natural gas. But they're just making hydrogen in their electrolyzer, and then they capture the CO2 and then put it into a methanation reaction. So everything they're doing is already world scale, basically.Austin Vernon (00:59:47):We've had hydrogen electrolyzers power fertilizer plants, providing them with the Hydrogen that they need. Methanation happens in all ammonia plants and several other examples. It's well known, very old. Methanation is hydrogen CO2 combined to make water and methane. So their approach is more conservative, but if you do more in the electrolyzer, like I'm going to make the methane actually in the electrolyzer instead of adding this other process, you could potentially have a much simpler process that has less CapEx and scales downward better. Traditional chemical engineering heavily favors scaling. With the more Terraform processes, they're playing as absolutely ginormous factories. These can take a long time to build.Austin Vernon (01:00:42):So one of the things they're doing is: they're having to fight the complexity that creeps into chemical engineering every step of the way. Because if they don't, they'll end up with a plant that takes 10 years to build, and that's not their goal. It takes 10 years to build a new refinery, because they're so complex. So yeah, that's where I am. I'm more on the speculative edge, and it's not clear yet which products will be favorable for which approaches.Dwarkesh Patel (01:01:15):Okay, yeah. And you're building this out of your garage, correct?Austin Vernon (01:01:19):Yeah. So that's where electrolyzers... Everything with electric chemistry is a flat plate instead of a vessel, so it scales down. So I can have a pretty good idea of what my 100 square centimeter electrolyzer is going to do, if I make it quite a bit bigger. I have to worry about how my flow might interact in the larger one and make sure the mixing's good, but it's pretty straightforward because you're just making your flat plate a larger area. Whereas the scale, it is different from scaling a traditional chemical process.Dwarkesh Patel (01:01:56):I'm curious how cheap energy has to be before this is efficient. If you're turning it into methane or something like that, presumably for fuel, is the entire process energy positive? Or how cheap would energy, electricity you need to get before that's the case?Austin Vernon (01:02:18):The different products and different methods have different crossovers. So Terraform Industries, they're shooting for $10 a megawatt hour for electricity. But again, their process is simpler, a little less efficient than a lot of the other products. They also have better premiums, just worth more per ton than methane. So your crossover happens somewhere in between $10 and $20 a megawatt hour, which is... I mean, that's pretty... Right now, solar, it's maybe like $25. Maybe it's a little higher because payment prices have gone up in the last year, but I think the expectation is they'll come back down. And so, getting down to $15 where you start having crossovers for some of these products like ethanol or ethylene or methanol, it's not science fiction.Dwarkesh Patel (01:03:08):I think in Texas where I live, that's where it's at right? The cost of energy is 20 or something dollars per megawatt hour.Austin Vernon (01:03:16):Well, not this summer! But yeah, a lot of times in Texas, the wholesale prices are around $25 to $30.Dwarkesh Patel (01:03:26):Gotcha. Okay. Yeah. So a lot of the actual details you said about how this works went over my head. So what is a flat plate? I guess before you answer that question, can you just generally describe the approach? What is it? What are you doing to convert CO2 into these other compounds?Austin Vernon (01:03:45):Well, yeah, it literally just looks like an electrolyzer. You have two sides and anode and a cathode and they're just smushed together like this because of the electrical resistance. If you put them far apart, it makes it... uses up a lot of energy. So you smush them together as close as you can. And then, you're basically just trading electrons back and forth. On one side, you're turning CO2 into a more complex molecule, and on the other side, you're taking apart water. And so, when you take apart the water, it balances out the equation, balances out your electrons and everything like that. I probably need to work on that elevator pitch there, huh?Dwarkesh Patel (01:04:31):I guess what the basic idea is, you need to put power in to convert CO2 into these other compounds.Austin Vernon (01:04:38):The inputs are electricity, water, and CO2, and the output is usually oxygen and whatever chemical you're trying to create is, along with some side reactions.Dwarkesh Patel (01:04:49):And then, these chemicals you mentioned, I think ethanol, methane, formic acid, are these all just fuels or what are the other uses for them?Austin Vernon (01:04:58):A lot of people are taking a hybrid approach with carbon monoxide. So this would be like Twelve Co… They've raised a lot of money to do this and 100 employees or something. You can take that carbon monoxide and make hydrogen, and then you have to send gas to make liquid fuels. So they want to make all sorts of chemicals, but one of the main volume ones would be like jet fuel.Austin Vernon (01:05:22):Let's see Formic acid is, it's the little fry of all these. It is an additive in a lot of things like preserving hay for animals and stuff like that. Then, ethanol there's people that want to... There's this company that makes ethylene, which goes into plastics that makes polyethylene, which is the most produced plastic. Or you can burn it in your car, although I think ethanol is a terrible vehicle fuel. But then you can also just make ethylene straight in the electrolyzer. So there's many paths. So which path wins is an interesting race to see.Dwarkesh Patel (01:06:13):The ability to produce jet fuel is really interesting, because in your energy superabundance paper, you talk about... You would think that even if we can electrify everything in solar and when it becomes super cheap, that's not going to have an impact on the prices to go to space for example. But I don't know. If a process like this is possible, then it's some way to in financial terms, add liquidity. And then turn, basically, this cheap solar and wind into jet fuel through this indirect process. So the price to send stuff to space or cheap plane flights or whatever––all of that goes down as well.Austin Vernon (01:06:52):It basically sets a price ceiling on the price of oil. Whatever you can produce this for is the ceiling now, which is maybe the way I think about it.Dwarkesh Patel (01:07:06):Yeah. So do you want to talk a little bit about how your background led into this project? This is your full-time thing, right? I don't know if I read about that, but where did you get this idea and how long have you been pursuing it? And what's the progress and so on.Austin Vernon (01:07:20):I've always loved chemical engineering, and I love working at the big processing plant because it's like being a kid in a candy store. If I had extra time, I'd just walk around and look at the plant, like it's so cool. But the plant where I worked at, their up time was 99.7%. So if you wanted to change anything or do anything new, it terrified everyone. That's how they earned their bonuses: run the plant a 100% uptime all the time. So that just wasn't a good fit for me. And also, so I always wanted my own chemical plant, but it's billions of dollars to build plants so that was a pretty big step. So I think this new technology of... there's a window where you might be able to build smaller plants until it optimizes to be hard to enter again.Dwarkesh Patel (01:08:21):And then, why will it become hard to enter again? What will happen?Austin Vernon (01:08:27):If someone figures out how to build a really cheap electrolyzer, and they just keep it as intellectual property, then it would be hard to rediscover that and compete with them.Dwarkesh Patel (01:08:38):And so, how long have you been working on this?Austin Vernon (01:08:42):Oh, not quite a year. But yeah, I actually got this idea to work on it from writing my blog. So when I wrote the heating fuel post, I didn't really know much about... There's another company in the space, Prometheus Fuels and I'm like, "Oh, this is an interesting idea." And then, I got talking to a guy named Brian Heligman, and he's like, "You should do this, but not what Prometheus is doing." And so, then I started looking at it and I liked it, so I've been working on it since.Dwarkesh Patel (01:09:08):Yeah. It's interesting because if energy does become as cheap as you suspect it might. If this process works, then yeah, this is a trillion dollar company probably, right? If you're going to get the patents and everything.Austin Vernon (01:09:22):I mean, maybe. With chemical plants, there's a certain limitation where your physical limitation is. There's only so many places that are good places for chemical plants. You start getting hit by transportation and all that. So, you can't just produce all th

What Do You Wanna Talk About? with Lindsay Prince and Jason Alberty

This week on What Do You Wanna Talk About?, Jason and Lindsay discuss their interactions and history with "Man's best friend." Later, this start getting warm as the duo discuss their Rando-Mo. New episodes every Monday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else you find your podcasts. What Do You Wanna Talk About? is produced and distributed by the L.A.S. Podcast Network in Cedar Rapids, IA. For more, visit LASMediaGroup.com. Subscribe to L.A.S.+ for just $10/month and get bonus episodes of this show, ad-free versions of every L.A.S. Podcast, pre-sale access to live events, early access to special podcasts and projects, and more benefits, all while support local Iowa creators and businesses. For more information and to get started, head to LASMediaGroup.com/plus.

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 19

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2022 2:11


This is John McGlothlen with The Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Monday, September 19th. According to the National Weather Service, it will be sunny today in the Cedar Rapids area, with a high near 83. Winds from the northeast at around 5 mph. Then tonight, it should be mostly clear, with a low around 67. A 21-year-old man serving time in an Iowa prison died Wednesday at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, according to an Iowa Department of Corrections news release. Keyote Smith was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. Wednesday after being admitted earlier in the week “for an acute illness related to a chronic medical condition.” The Johnson County Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy. Since October 2020, Smith had been serving a maximum 10-year sentence for a second-degree robbery conviction in Marshall County. Last year, he filed an application for post-conviction relief. No one was injured Saturday after a vacant house near Coggon caught fire during a brush burn, according to the Linn County Sheriff's Office. The owners of the acreage in the 5800 block of Quality Ridge Road had a burn permit for brush and were burning an area north of the vacant house on their land, which is about 1.5 miles west of Coggon. The owners contacted authorities after winds caused the fire to spread to the house. Emergency responders found the structure fully engulfed when they arrived. The house is considered a total loss. Coggon's fire chief reported there was nothing suspicious about the fire. The Nevada vs Iowa football game at Kinnick Stadium lasted longer than anyone could have imagined Saturday night. Because of three lightning delays, the game ended after seven hours — from the rainy 6:40 p.m. kickoff to 1:39 a.m. Sunday morning, when the Hawkeyes won the game 27-0, scoring three touchdowns on offense. –

LiveWell Talk On...
223 - Hospital-based Therapy (Megan Annis, OTR/L)

LiveWell Talk On...

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2022 14:33


This week is National Rehab Week, and on the podcast today is Megan Annis, OTR/L, occupational therapist with St. Luke's Physical Medicine and Rehab, to discuss rehab services offered at the hospital. She and Dr. Arnold talk about inpatient and outpatient rehab, the role of an occupational therapist and much more.For more info about Physical Medicine and Rehab Services in Cedar Rapids, call (319) 369-7331 or visit unitypoint.org/pmr-cr. This is the first of three podcasts celebrating National Rehab Week 2022. Check back on Wednesday for a podcast on Witwer Children's Therapy with Speech Pathologist Nicole Halvorson and on Friday for a podcast on Therapy Plus with Senior Physical Therapist Brock Yotty.Do you have a question about a trending medical topic? Ask Dr. Arnold! Anything from COVID-19 to the latest technologies and procedures to general questions about a service provided at UnityPoint Health - Cedar Rapids. Submit your question and it may be answered by Dr. Arnold on the podcast! Submit your questions at: https://www.unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/submit-a-question-for-the-mailbag.aspx 

LIFEchurch IA
Be Bold | Unleashed Faith | Rich Greene

LIFEchurch IA

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2022 38:08


Unleashed Faith is where we will be exploring what is God's dangerous plan for our lives. As Christians we are meant to live an adventurous life, trusting Jesus along the way and doing exploits for him. We are meant to live with a passion we're calling Unleashed Faith. If you are ready to break out of the mundane and discover God's dangerous plan for your life, join us for this new series. Join us live in Cedar Rapids, Coralville, or Wilton, Iowa. Or watch online each Sunday morning. Visit https://www.lifechurchnow.org for specific times. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/LIFEchurchIA New(ish) here? We'd love to connect with you! https://bit.ly/1st-Time_Connection Got a prayer request? https://bit.ly/Ask_For_Prayer  

The Ag View Pitch
Weekly Market Outlook September 19-23rd: "Micro and Macro Market Management."

The Ag View Pitch

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 18, 2022 30:35


Clark Neighbors with BIS Commodities in Cedar Rapids, Iowa talks with Chris on numerous market fundamentals as we march towards harvest. First off they address some of the market carry over from the USDA report last Monday. They go on to discuss some of the early harvest activity and the importance of managing basis levels in your local area. Some areas will have deficient supplies which may give us basis strength, however timing and paying attention will be crucial. Finally, they discuss several macro economic fundamentals that may provide some market headwinds in the near future. Some of the areas to watch include interest rates, inflation, input costs, and the potential of a world slow down or even potentially a recession.

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 16 and September 17

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 17, 2022 4:46


Welcome to the weekend! This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18th. Rain appears likely this weekend but it also looks like it will be getting chillier again next week, so maybe go for the umbrella and shorts combo? According to the National Weather Service there will be a 30 percent chance of rain Saturday in the Cedar Rapids area, mainly area 3 p.m. There will be a high of 83 degrees with partly sunny skies. It will be a bit windy, with a 5 to 15 mph wind gusting as high as 25 mph. On Saturday night the rain chance will jump up to 70 percent, with mostly cloudy skies and a low near 68 degrees. Rain chances will continue on Sunday with Saturday's rain lingering into Sunday morning, and a chance for more rain after 2 p.m. When it is not raining, it should be mostly sunny, with a high near 87 degrees. Internet hosting and domain-name registrar business GoDaddy plans to move its operations to downtown Cedar Rapids next year, the company told its Hiawatha employees in an email earlier this summer. “This move represents our need for a smaller space given fewer employees use the office daily,” the company said. Spokeswoman Kristy Nicholas told The Gazette on Friday that the company had not yet announced its “intended location in Cedar Rapids.” GoDaddy was founded by Bob Parsons, who sold his Cedar Rapids-based Parsons Technology financial software company to Intuit in 1994 for $65 million. Johnson County has acquired 83 acres of woodland, prairie and a farmstead near Solon that will be available for public use. The property known as Two Horse Farm, at 2257 Sugar Bottom Road NE, was acquired in part through a donation by Erin and Brian Melloy, the former owners, and in part through a purchase with $1.2 million in state and county conservation funds. The land includes 64 acres of forest, 15.5 acres of reconstructed prairie and a 3.5-acre farmstead that includes a 1890's-era farmhouse and a barn built in 1913 that now houses https://www.theraregroup.org/#:~:text=Located%20in%20Iowa%20City%2C%20Iowa,that%20number%20continues%20to%20grow. (Raptor Advocacy Rehabilitation & Education (RARE)). A unique part of the land transaction is that seven acres of prairie have been donated to the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. “The Native Americans our state is named after have no land whatsoever (in Iowa),” said Brad Freidhof, county conservation program manager. The Iowa Tribe controls a 12,000-acre reservation in northeast Kansas and southeast Nebraska, but its original land was in Iowa and was the namesake of the state. As part of the deal with tribal members, the county has agreed to maintain the tribal land as it does the adjacent area. The hope is it will give members of the tribe who now live elsewhere a way to come make connections in the state that was once its home, Friedhof said. A man who was arrested in a California airport while trying to conceal 5 pounds of methamphetamine in his carry-on bag to bring with him to Iowa pleaded guilty this week in federal court. 21-year-old Kiyonte Sowell, of Los Angeles, was convicted in U.S. District Court of one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. He was indicted with 10 others who were charged with distributing ice meth from 2018 through March 2022. Early this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration was conducting a wiretap investigation into a meth trafficking ring in Cedar Rapids, according to federal prosecutors. On Feb. 28, Sowell went to the Los Angeles International Airport to take a flight to Cedar Rapids. Sowell brought a large roller bag and attempted to take the bag through security as his carry-on luggage, according to the plea. Airport security searched the bag and found about 2,200 grams of meth and arrested Sowell. The drug trafficking ring was led by 36-year-old David Poitier Belton, of Cedar Rapids, also charged in the conspiracy....

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 16

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2022 3:36


This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Friday, September 16. The weather during the day on Friday will be much like the days before it this week. But there could be some rain overnight into Saturday morning. According to the National Weather Service it will be mostly sunny in the Cedar Rapids area with a high near 85 degrees. A wind of 5 to 15 mph could gust as high as 20 mph. On Friday night there will be a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 a.m. Besides that, it will be partly cloudy, with a low of around 67 degrees. Freight railroad companies and unions representing workers have been locked in a dispute over pay and working conditions this week, but President Joe Biden said Thursday that they had reached a "tentative" deal to avoid a major economic disruption. A strike would have affected not only commuters who rely on the railway to get to work but also the nation's energy supply and drinking water. Two of the largest unions -- representing 57,000 conductors and engineers -- held out until the final hours. But Wednesday and through the night into Thursday, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh held emergency meetings with the rail carriers and unions to help broker a deal. Disruptions were already being felt: Amtrak announced it would cancel all of its long-distance trains starting Thursday, and other rail systems braced for shutdowns. The impasse was tied to disagreements between management and labor over sick time and penalties for missing work. U.S. freight railroad workers were close to striking over claims that grueling schedules, strict on-call policies and poor working conditions have been driving employees out of the industry over the past several years. North Liberty-based GreenState Credit Union said Thursday it had instituted a reduction in force, effective immediately, that eliminated the positions of 42 employees across the organization. Citing a decreased demands for loans, Jim Kelly, the credit union's chief marketing officer, said in an email to The Gazette Thursday that most of the workers affected were “in the mortgage lending or commercial banking divisions.” In an attempt to control inflation the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates. As a result, the average for 30-year-fixed mortgage rates nationwide has climbed to slightly over 6 percent. Applications for mortgages have dropped in response. Superintendent Noreen Bush of the Cedar Rapids Community School District is taking a medical leave beginning Monday. Bush was diagnosed with cancer two and a half years ago while serving as superintendent of the 16,700-student school district. “Noreen established a theme of ‘love and care' for our district to begin this school year,” school board president David Tominsky said in a message to the community Thursday. “And we, as a school district and broader community, fully support her with all our love and care as she takes this important time to focus on her cancer journey.” Over the summer, Bush participated in a cancer clinical trial in Pittsburgh, Penn., where she underwent cellular therapy.

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 15

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2022 3:06


This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Thursday, September 15. The trend of sunny weather continues Thursday, with the most notable difference being a slightly stronger wind. According to the National Weather Service it will be mostly sunny in the Cedar Rapids area, with a high near 83 degrees. A wind of 5 to 15 mph could gust as high as 20 mph. On Thursday night it will be mostly cloudy, with a low of around 62 degrees. Iowa's Republican U.S. senators shied away from supporting a proposed nationwide ban on abortions when asked about that possibility Wednesday. South Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a bill on Tuesday that would create a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he prefers to leave the issue to states. “Finally, after 50 years, this issue has been returned to the states so voters can have a voice through their elected representatives at a state level and not by unelected judges,” Grassley told reporters. “So this is a state issue.” Sen. Joni Ernst did not provide as clear cut of an answer when speaking to reporters, but did say that states should have the “initial role' when it comes to abortion restrictions. Members of one union rejected a tentative deal with the largest U.S. freight railroads Wednesday, while two ratified agreements and three others remained at the bargaining table just days ahead of a strike deadline. A national rail workers strike could intensify snarls in the nation's supply chain that have contributed to rising prices. Government officials and a variety of businesses are bracing for the possibility of a nationwide rail strike that would paralyze shipments of everything from crude and clothing to cars, a potential calamity for businesses that have struggled for more than two years due to COVID-19 related supply chain breakdowns. Railroads are trying to reach an agreement with all their other unions to avert a strike before Friday's deadline. The unions aren't allowed to strike before Friday under the federal law that governs railroad contract talks. There are 12 unions — one with two separate divisions — representing 115,000 workers that must agree to the tentative deals and then have members vote on whether to approve them. A Cedar Rapids man died Tuesday night after driving off the road just north of the Edgewood Road Bridge and hitting a tree. Cedar Rapids police said Scott Devore, 66, was the driver and only occupant of the vehicle in the 7:36 p.m. crash. The southbound lanes of the bridge were closed until 12:15 a.m. Investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The McAllister Hours Podcast
Episode #138: Silence

The McAllister Hours Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2022 69:40


We're joined by Cedar Rapids hip hop artist Silence as we discuss his busy schedule, his past trauma, addiction, anxiety medication, and many more interesting avenues of conversation. Pretty talkative for a guy name Silence! ===== LINKS Silence: Linktree: https://linktr.ee/silence9shh Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Silence9shh/?fbclid=IwAR3PS9fhwxFDBaumZhdNT3Mwpl-JXMW08lwQt2AhErpiu4FQEpB7HPoEdSc Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0Bh4SF9m2OvNoUSWMPNnlX?si=LrMG5KLVSfuz383jXF5WeQ ====== Main Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheMcAllisterHours Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3kkuLRVsVJLi22RALUkNRh?si=6c663608a0744da1 Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mcallister-hours-podcast/id1509329541 McAllister Visual Media: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBM3Jy9fcnzk0ZeMcf5BFiA Coleman's Music (McCretin): https://open.spotify.com/artist/646mV626yFqKaAEfKeAKMT?si=_2QeVV26Qfuhq1N2pC583w Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/themcallisterhours TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@mcallisterhours?lang=en Twitter: https://twitter.com/mc_hours Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mcallisterhours?fan_landing=true Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mcallisterhours/ Discord: https://discord.gg/BZraY34JKX Rumble: https://rumble.com/c/c-739237 ====== *SPONSORS* Stutterbox Productions: https://www.facebook.com/StutterboxProductions Guerilla Graphics Design Agency: https://www.guerrillagrfx.com/ ====== Want to invest? We now have our very own NFT! Link: https://diamondapp.com/u/mcallisterhours?tab=posts

Mission: Employable
Episode 131 – Business Engagement Kick Off with IWD Director Beth Townsend

Mission: Employable

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2022 16:13


Change is in the air! IowaWORKS is looking to strengthen our relationships with Iowa employers through a new statewide business engagement initiative. Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend talks with us about the first 100 days of the initiative and how business leaders can use IowaWORKS to build their workforce. 

Bloody Mary Podcast
Sinister with Haley Flenker

Bloody Mary Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2022 41:45


Iowa and Wisconsin have a certain kinship when it comes to all things creepy. I was thrilled to explore that with Cedar Rapids' own Haley Flenker. Haley is the owner of The Lucky Cat, a comedy club and community hub that features dance, yoga, trivia and more. While talking about Sinister we discussed Fred Thompson's presidential run, Mr. Boogie's TRUE identity, our love for Deputy So and So and how hard it is to be atheists who believe in ghosts and vibes. Check out The Lucky Cat Here: https://www.theluckycatcr.com/ And follow Haley on insta: @lostabet

Entrebrewer
Ep #29: Building Businesses to Support Your Passion & Why w/Dan Bensema

Entrebrewer

Play Episode Play 25 sec Highlight Listen Later Sep 15, 2022 24:53


Today we have another great episode lined up for you. He and I originally connected on LinkedIn. After a few back and forth messages, I knew that he was going to be a great guest for the show. I'm excited for the audience to hear his story, and discuss what he has going on. We connected for a pre-podcast call a few weeks back, and I know you will get value from this episode. He has a background in M&A, business strategy, and is both a CPA & CFA. My guest today is Dan Bensema. He is a Managing Partner at Luna Ventures, which is a company that works with business owners to develop and manage strategies. He currently resides with his family in Cedar Rapids. Dan works with business owners to build valuable companies, creating life-changing wealth for the owner. He chose to work on this unique problem because it is where he can have the greatest impact with his life. Understanding business value, and aligning business strategy with "what" the owner wants from the business, is critically important to personal and business success for the owner. Unfortunately this is also an under-served and misunderstood concept among business owners and advisors.Dan has 20 years of experience in business strategy and finance, primarily in mergers and acquisitions. Working with a spectrum of businesses from world-class companies to small businesses and new ventures, he serves as a thought-partner with owners to build valuable businesses. Dan's unique experience includes acquisitions, divestitures, and partnerships ranging in size and complexity from $2 million to $8 billion. In Dan's experience at Deloitte and Fortune 500 companies, he worked alongside some of the world's top business talent and has developed best practices for building valuable businesses. Dan has Accounting, MBA, and Master of Accountancy degrees from the University of Iowa. Dan's experience is complemented by credentials including CPA, M&A and Exit Planning certifications, and CFP® professional.

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 14

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 14, 2022 3:52


This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Wednesday, September 14. The sunny and warm weather continues on Wednesday. According to the National Weather Service it will be mostly sunny in the Cedar Rapids area, with a high near 82 degrees. There will be a light wind of 5 to 10 mph. On Wednesday night it will be partly cloudy, with a low of around 59 degrees. A Cedar Rapids man arrested Monday https://www.thegazette.com/crime-courts/cedar-rapids-man-accused-of-involuntary-manslaughter-in-fatal-shooting/ (on a charge of involuntary manslaughter )intended to wound another man, not kill him, on April 25, according to a criminal complaint filed in Linn County District Court on Tuesday. Marlon Juane Jackson, 43, left his apartment around 3 a.m. to investigate a potential burglary of his car in the parking lot near 12th Avenue and Auburn Drive SW, the complaint states. After he examined his vehicle, Jackson saw https://www.thegazette.com/crime-courts/cedar-rapids-man-found-dead-after-shooting/ (Dustin Frondle), 36, of Cedar Rapids, walking in his direction, leading to a confrontation.. During the altercation, Jackson told police he fired several “warning shots” into the ground near Frondle, but Frondle, who was unarmed, continued to come toward him. Jackson told police he intended to shoot at Frondle's legs, not wanting to kill him but wanting to stop him. Jackson shot Frondle three times — in the left thigh, the right leg, and the left shoulder. The shot to Frondle's shoulder passed through his lung and heart, killing him. According to the criminal complaint, investigators found Jackson had previously been convicted of a felony in Michigan and had lied on his gun permit application to the Linn County Sheriff's Office, claiming he had no felony convictions. Linn County will not have a landfill within its borders after the current one closes in Marion in 2044. The Solid Waste Agency's board made that decision because no Linn County land is available for a new landfill because of zoning restrictions. Instead, the agency and its board are looking at regional solutions in its “https://www.solidwasteagency.org/about-us/forward-2044 (Forward 2044)” planning, according to Karmin McShane, the agency's executive director. Some of the ideas include partnerships with other counties or even teaming up with a private company in a state like Illinois to handle some of Linn County's waste. Linn County, for example, could ship some of its waste to a neighboring county's landfill and, in return, that county transfers some of its waste to be incinerated in Linn County. A magnet high school for students to engage in project-based learning is being added to the Cedar Rapids Community School District next fall 2023. A location has yet to be established for the school — named City View Community High School. Officials are waiting to hear if they will receive a $15 million grant from the Magnet School  Assistance Program from the U.S. Department of Education, school officials announced during a school board meeting Monday, although the school will open either way. City View is intended to provide “experiential learning in the community.” Students at the school will be able to explore life and career goals through job shadows, internships and apprenticeships. And it will connect students to business people and mentors in Cedar Rapids District officials will begin recruiting up to 200 primarily rising ninth- and 10th-graders to enroll in the school for the 2023-24 school year. The school will eventually serve up to 400 ninth to 12th-graders. The school will not offer athletics or music, which students can still find at their local high school. 

Brain and Courtlin Morning Show
Brian Ferentz Gets Trolled and El Bajio Number Two!

Brain and Courtlin Morning Show

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2022 38:44


Iowa fans troll Brian Ferentz on Cameo and El Bajio opens their 2nd Cedar Rapids location!

Modern Day Over-Thinker
MDOT with Corey Jacobson

Modern Day Over-Thinker

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2022 79:42


Corey Jacobson is the current board president of CR Pride in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. CR Pride's mission: "To create opportunities for awareness, inclusivity and visibility of LGBTQIA+ individuals within our community." Corey and I discussed the community as a whole, his coming out story as a cisgender gay male. The importance of community was at the forefront of our conversation. Corey wanted to make sure everyone is aware that the LGBTQ community deals with the same problems everyone else does, and how important inclusion is. We also discussed Corey's personal struggles with his body image (body dysmorphia) and his current relationship with his body. To learn more about pride in CR click the link here: https://crprideia.com/

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 13

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2022 3:52


This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Tuesday, September 13. It's going to warm back up a bit this week, starting on Tuesday. According to the National Weather Service, it will be sunny in the Cedar Rapids area, with a high near 81 degrees. On Tuesday night it will be mostly clear, with a low of around 53 degrees. The wind should remain mostly calm throughout the day, even more so as night arrives. An Iowa court denied a request from parents to https://www.thegazette.com/higher-education/parents-urge-court-to-bar-enforcement-of-new-linn-mar-transgender-policy/ (temporarily bar enforcement of a Linn-Mar school district policy) that protects transgender and nonbinary students while a lawsuit to negate the policy is pending. U.S. District Court Judge C.J. Williams ruled Monday on a national parental advocacy group's request, denying the injunction. The policy ensures the district complies with state law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, according to court documents. An injunction would have blocked students from any protection from harassment and bullying on the basis of gender identity, as well as prevented the school from disciplining such harassment and bullying under various Title IX and Iowa civil rights-related provisions that defendants are obligated by law to enforce, Williams ruled. The Linn-Mar Community School District is being sued by the national Parents Defending Education organization over the policy https://www.thegazette.com/k/linn-mar-school-board-members-debate-policies-to-protect-transgender-students/ (approved by the Linn-Mar school board) in April. The policies spell out inclusive practices for transgender students, including giving students access to restrooms, locker rooms or changing areas that correspond with their gender identity. With wild birds beginning the fall migration southward, Iowa's chicken and turkey farmers once again are on high alert for avian influenza. This year's version of the bird flu resulted in the destruction of more than 13 million birds in Iowa this spring. While significant, that was not nearly as devastating as the 2015 version of the avian flu, which resulted in the destruction of more than 31.5 million chickens and turkeys in Iowa, and resulted in a $1.2 billion hit to the state's economy, https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2015/08/report-finds-12-billion-iowa-avian-flu-damage (according to one report). New cases have been identified throughout the Midwest in recent weeks: at poultry farms in Minnesota and Ohio, and backyard flocks in Wisconsin and Indiana. According to the Associated Press, an indicator that the painful inflation of the past 18 months may be slowly getting better could come Tuesday, when the government is expected to report that the acceleration in U.S. prices slowed in August compared with a year ago https://apnews.com/article/us-inflation-july-report-ec477624de30115dd49f35009b2659c0 (for a second straight month). Economists have forecast that the report will show that prices jumped 8.1% from 12 months earlier, down from a four-decade high of 9.1% in June and 8.5% in July, according to data provider FactSet. Sharply lower gas prices are behind much of the decline, along with the costs of used cars, air fares and clothing. Furthermore, according to figures monitored most closely by the Federal Reserve, consumer prices are predicted to have dropped 0.1% in August. It would be the first outright decline in month-over-month inflation since May 2020 and would follow a flat reading in July.

Myths of Myria: A Live-Play D&D Podcast

On Today's Episode: Val, Lilith, and Bandagh catch their breath after their fight with a Black Dragon. Shadow tries to move his unconscious brother with the help of Her and Abadon. From the mind of Alan Way comes Myths of Myria, a brand new fantasy podcast featuring an incredible world brought to life using live-play sessions of Dungeons & Dragons. New episodes every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else you find your podcasts. L.A.S.+ subscribers receive early access to all episodes from a recording session every three weeks! Myths of Myria is produced and distributed by the L.A.S. Podcast Network in Cedar Rapids, IA. For more, visit LASPodcastNetwork.com. Subscribe to L.A.S.+ for just $10/month and get bonus episodes of this show, ad-free versions of every L.A.S. Podcast, pre-sale access to live events, early access to special podcasts and projects, and more benefits, all while support local Iowa creators and businesses. For more information and to get started, head to LASPodcastNetwork.com/plus.

Dirt from the Road
MO LOWDA & the HUMBLE | weirdest corporate gigs, most efficient songwriting process, DIY touring ethic

Dirt from the Road

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 12, 2022 61:20


Philadelphia Indie Rock band Mo Lowda & the Humble sits down with Brett Newski (NEWSKI) to discuss weirdest corporate gigs, most efficient songwriting process, DIY touring ethic, & how to get more people to shows in the most over-crowded entertainment environment ever.  More on Mo Lowda: http://www.molowda.com/ Support the pod if you can: https://patreon.com/newski More on NEWSKI: www.newskimusic.com NEWSKI ON TOUR Sept 17 - Des Plaines Fall Fest - DES PLAINES, IL (2p) Oct 27 - xbk live - DES MOINES, IA Oct 28 - Mason City Brewing - MASON CITY, IA Oct 29 - 18th St Pub - PARSONS, KS Oct 30 - Yard Show - FORT WORTH, TX (rsvp to this email) Nov 2 - Long Play Lounge East - AUSTIN, TX Nov 3/4/5 - Texafied Fest - SULPHUR SPRINGS, TX Nov 6 - Mercury Lounge - TULSA, OK Nov 11 - Lucky Cat (solo) - CEDAR RAPIDS, IA Dec 2 - Music Space of Owatonna - OWATONNA, MN Dec 3 - Secret All Request show - BLOOMINGTON, MN

Middle Class Film Class
Gab & Chatter (FIXED): Watcher / Mad God / Room / Moonstruck / Interview with Petr Jakl, Director of Medieval

Middle Class Film Class

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 12, 2022 89:36


On this episode: Springfield at the cinema yet again, “We are not assholes!” cried a bunch of rich assholes and the most expensive A24 movie yet. PLUS A batch of new release reviews, more Ke Huy Kwan please, and Joseph's final word on the OG Alien quadrilogyIn news: Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, favorite smells, coffee, chai tea, Soarin' over the World, California Adventure, Fresno, Ohio, Gilroy, Fox, The Simpsons Movie, Bart Simpson's penis, Yeardly Smith, Bob's Burgers Movie, Peter Faulk, Columbo, The X-Files Movie, The Pokemon Movie, Batgirl, Warner Brothers, Discovery, Bank of America securities media communications and entertainment conference, Cedar Rapids, Catch Me if You Can, content creators, Denis Villeneuve, The Poseidon Adventure, Listener Mike, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Jeff Goldblum, Briauna, Scream, Ari Aster, Disappointment Blvd, Joaquin Phoenix, A24, Midsummer, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Yeoh, James Hong, The Green Knight, Ex Machina, Woman Walks Ahead, Jessica Chastain, Susanna White, Generation Kill, Vince from Shamwow, Slap Chop, Tiny Cinema, Tyler Cornack, Tyer Koch, William Morean, Body Bags, John Carpenter, Butt Boy, Birthday Boys, I Think You Should Leave, V/H/S, Shudder, IFC Midnight, Dario Argento, Dark Glasses, Stranger Things, Paper Girls, Duffer Brothers, Medieval, Michael Caine, Ben Foster, The Avenue, Jan Zizka, Til Schweiger, Matthew Goode, Stoker, Downton Abbey, Peter Jakl, XXX, Vin Diesel, Judo, Barry Lyndon, Ke Huy Kwan, Loki, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, Alien Covenant, Prometheus, Ron Perlman, Charles Dance, Predators, Topher Grace, Escape From L.A., Winona Rider, Screen Run, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser, Mad About Youhttp://www.MCFCpodcast.com-Email us at MCFCpodcast@gmail.com    -Leave us a voicemail (209) 730-6010-Get some merch:https://middle-class-film-class.creator-spring.com/-Sponsor - None - Go See Medieval in Theaters and for Digital RentalJoseph Navarro    Pete Abeytaand Tyler Noe    Streaming Picks:Room - HBO Max, KanopyMoonstruck - HBO MaxWatcher - AMC+, ShudderMad God - Shudder

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 12

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 12, 2022 2:00


This is John McGlothlen with The Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Monday, September 12th. According to the National Weather Service, we'll have a 20 percent chance of rain before 1 p.m. today in the Cedar Rapids area. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 72. Winds from the northwest, 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Then tonight, it should be clear, with a low around 50. A man with a gunshot wound arrived at a Cedar Rapids hospital Saturday shortly after police were dispatched to a shots-fired report, according to a Cedar Rapids Police Department news release. At 12:23 p.m., officers were sent to the area of Ninth Street and D Avenue NW where they found shell casings behind a house in the 500 block of Ninth Street NW. A nearby vehicle and a neighbor's shed were struck by gunfire. Less than an hour later, officers were notified that a man with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound arrived at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's Hospital for treatment. It was the second shooting in two days for the city. On Friday, police were called to a shots-fired incident at an apartment complex in southwest Cedar Rapids, where property damage was found. Police said a juvenile male showed up at a hospital for treatment, shortly after that shots-fired incident was reported. An Olin man was killed early Saturday while driving an ATV in a Jones County wildlife area, according to an Iowa Department of Natural Resources news release. At about 3:30 a.m., 35-year-old James Minor drove off the roadway at Olin Access Wildlife Management Area and hit an obstruction. Authorities said Minor was declared dead at the scene. –

LIFEchurch IA
Unleashed Faith | Rich Greene

LIFEchurch IA

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 12, 2022 37:22


Unleashed Faith is where we will be exploring what is God's dangerous plan for our lives. As Christians we are meant to live an adventurous life, trusting Jesus along the way and doing exploits for him. We are meant to live with a passion we're calling Unleashed Faith. If you are ready to break out of the mundane and discover God's dangerous plan for your life, join us for this new series. Join us live in Cedar Rapids, Coralville, or Wilton, Iowa. Or watch online each Sunday morning. Visit https://www.lifechurchnow.org for specific times. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/LIFEchurchIA New(ish) here? We'd love to connect with you! https://bit.ly/1st-Time_Connection Got a prayer request? https://bit.ly/Ask_For_Prayer  

What Do You Wanna Talk About? with Lindsay Prince and Jason Alberty

This week on What Do You Wanna Talk About?, Jason and Lindsay sit down to discuss the changes to their schedules now that school is back in session. Then, the Rando-Mo ties in very nicely with the topic of the day. New episodes every Monday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else you find your podcasts. What Do You Wanna Talk About? is produced and distributed by the L.A.S. Podcast Network in Cedar Rapids, IA. For more, visit LASMediaGroup.com. Subscribe to L.A.S.+ for just $10/month and get bonus episodes of this show, ad-free versions of every L.A.S. Podcast, pre-sale access to live events, early access to special podcasts and projects, and more benefits, all while support local Iowa creators and businesses. For more information and to get started, head to LASMediaGroup.com/plus.

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 10 and September 11

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 10, 2022 5:19


Welcome to the weekend! This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Saturday, September 10, and Sunday, September 11. This is a weekend that is going to feel very much like fall has arrived with cooler temperatures and potentially some rain in store. According to the National Weather Service, on Saturday in the Cedar Rapids area it will be cloudy, with a high near 72 degrees. There will be a north wind of 5 to 15 mph with wind gusts as high as 20 mph. There will be an above 50 percent chance of rain from around 6 p.m. on Saturday until 6:00 a.m. on Sunday. On Sunday the chance of rain will linger, mostly until 1 p.m., and the high will be 67 degrees. The wind will be similar to Saturday. On Sunday night it will be mostly cloudy, with a low of around 54 degrees, and a 40 percent chance of showers. Six years after a Davenport veteran's suicide sparked national attention and calls from members of Congress for an investigation after having been denied inpatient psychiatric care, the Iowa City Veterans Administration Medical Center is planning for a major expansion. “Over the past several years, mental health — both in the military and civilian sector — has been recognized as a shortcoming in our medical treatment of individuals, whether they veterans or civilians,” Heath Streck, associate director for operations, said following a 9/11 flag-raising ceremony on Friday at the Iowa City VA Health Care System. Streck stressed, however, that several mental health initiatives and newly approved funding by Congress will help deal with these shortcomings. President Joe Biden in June signed the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act into law. The legislation was named for Sgt. Brandon Ketchum. The 33-year-old served in Iraq and Afghanistan and struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse after serving in the U.S. Marines and the Iowa Army National Guard. He died by suicide in 2016 after being denied inpatient psychiatric care at the Iowa City Veterans Administration Medical Center. The new law, supported by Iowa's congressional delegation, will establish teams of specialists that can be more responsive to the needs of rural VA hospitals, as well as requiring the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study and report on whether the VA has sufficient resources to serve rural veterans who need mental health care that is more intensive than traditional outpatient therapy. Streck and Jamie Johnson, public affairs officer, said the Iowa City-based VA health system is in the process of developing a medical psych unit and plans to develop a community living center in addition to a residential rehabilitation treatment program to fill gaps and meet demand.  Over the next five budget years, the University of Iowa and its health care enterprise plan to spend more than $1.4 billion on new construction and renovations — including $620.9 million on a new inpatient hospital tower and $212 million on a new “modern health care research facility.” Iowa's three Regent universities this week shared more details of their projected capital spending over the next five years in a facilities plan going before Iowa's Board of Regents next week. For UI, the report for the first time attached numbers and general timelines to conceptual projects the campus unveiled earlier this year as part of its 10-year master plan. “UIHC's five-year capital plan for other funds would be for $786 million, up 51 percent from last year's $521 million, mainly due to a new inpatient bed tower project,” according to the new report. A spending schedule for the new UIHC inpatient tower budgets nearly $3 million toward that project in the next budget year, jumping to $148 million for fiscal 2025 — with costs escalating through fiscal 2028, reaching a total of $620.9 million. Although spending on the project could continue beyond that fifth year, the new UIHC inpatient tower at that price

The Gazette Daily News Podcast
Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 9

The Gazette Daily News Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 9, 2022 5:15


This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I'm here with your update for Friday, September 9. It will be another sunny warm day on Friday, but keep an eye out for your fall jacket because some cooler weather is coming Sunday. According to the National Weather Service it will be sunny with a high near 89 degrees in the Cedar Rapids area. On Friday night it will be clear in the evening, with a low of around 61 degrees. The wind will remain mild all day. Iowa politicians joined leaders from around the world to offer condolences and pay tribute to Britain's revered and longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday at the age of 96. “Queen Elizabeth II was a strong and graceful leader for the better part of a century,” 88-year-old U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. “As queen, she was a tremendous source of stability and clearly loved the people she served. She'll forever be a symbol of decency and humanity for the whole world. Queen Elizabeth II leaves a remarkable legacy of duty, honor and service.” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, in a statement, called Queen Elizabeth “a remarkable and steadfast woman who fought side by side with the United States through some of the Free World's most trying times.” “I'll always admire her fortitude, love of freedom, and tenacity that has inspired other women in leadership,” Reynolds said. “Kevin and I join with Iowans in sharing our condolences to the Royal Family.” With the death of the queen, her 73-year-old son Charles automatically becomes monarch, even though the coronation might not take place for months. It is not known whether he will choose to call himself King Charles III or some other name.  The Cedar Rapids Police Department https://www.facebook.com/cedarrapidspolicedepartment/videos/500101218598029/ (released body camera footage) Thursday of a fatal officer-involved shooting on Aug. 30. William Isaac Rich, 22, of Cedar Rapids, https://www.thegazette.com/crime-courts/dci-cedar-rapids-police-shot-killed-armed-man-at-domestic-disturbance/ (was shot) early in the morning on Aug. 30 after police were called to the Inn Circle, 5560 Sixth St SW “regarding violent domestic issues,” according to police, The video released by the police department starts with Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman explaining the incident that led to the shooting. In a short summary of the video footage, the officers were called to the scene with an indication that Rich had been in a domestic dispute with his wife and had punched, choked, and attempted to drown her. When officers arrived, they grabbed Rich, telling him to get his hands up. The police department then slowed down the video to show that Rich had a knife in his hand.  After a scuffle ensued, Rich was pushed back, and three shots rang out, with an officer telling Rich to get on the ground. Rich fell to the ground but then attempted to get back up, leading to four more gunshots, stopping his movement. The footage was released partially due to a community protest of the shooting, including members of Rich's family. The shooting is under investigation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and both officers, Sgt. Bryson Garringer and Investigator Christopher Christy, have been placed on paid leave. Once the Iowa DCI investigation is complete, it will be reviewed by the Iowa Attorney General's Office. A decade after the University of Iowa could last call itself the largest higher education institution in the state, UI this fall has reclaimed that distinction — reporting higher total enrollment than Iowa State University https://www.thegazette.com/education/iowa-state-remains-largest-university-in-iowa/ (for the first time since 2012). Two weeks into the fall semester, UI on Thursday reported 30,015 total undergraduate, graduate, and professional students — up slightly over last fall's 29,909, but still below its pre-pandemic count of 31,142 in fall 2019. Iowa State

Brain and Courtlin Morning Show
CR Restaurant in Trouble and Kids Making You Feel Old.

Brain and Courtlin Morning Show

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 9, 2022 34:18


A Cedar Rapids restaurant is in trouble for not paying it's employees, and what are some things your kids say that make you feel old?

Pretty Fort Weekly
144. treesreach

Pretty Fort Weekly

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 9, 2022 31:57


It's time (and time). Our favorite Cedar Rapids sauce masters are back with a new EP, "Time and Time." Can the treesreach boys top last year's "Galaxies Away," the official PF "multi-track release of the year?" Can PR and Chase win a softball game? What's the opposite of a tree? All these questions will be answered on today's episode of PRETTY FORT WEEKLY. Rad!

Heat Death of the Universe
161 - And the Monarchists Wept

Heat Death of the Universe

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 9, 2022 85:29


A little loose-y goose-y today. The Queen, etc. New PM, etc. Political fat shaming?, etc. Brazilian coup, etc. Hilldog will never again admonish us to Pokemon Go to the polls while simply chillin' in Cedar Rapids, etc. Undrinkable water, etc. WWIII update to be continued, etc. Shed 96 tears, one for each year of Elizabeth II's magical life.Commiserate on Discord: discord.gg/aDf4Yv9PrYSupport: patreon.com/heatdeathpodNever Forget: standwithdanielhale.orgGeneral RecommendationsJD's Recommendations: 1) Dendrons - 5-3-8 & 2) Turn off autoplay functions everywhere, on everything. JNM's Recommendation: Rewatch Curb Your EnthusiasmFurther Reading, Viewing, ListeningQueen Elizabeth II has diedUK: RUSI military think tank details Liz Truss's warmongering agendaBritain's new Prime Minister Liz Truss has appointed Thérèse Coffey as the country's new health secretary. Here is a picture of her.In April 2018, Liz Truss visited Brazil to promote "free markets, an open economy, and privatisation". For three years, the UK government has been refusing to answer my FOIA request, asking if Truss held secret meetings with neo-fascist Jair Bolsonaro.Vincent Bevins RT on an awful pro-Bolansaro article in the NYTJair Bolsonaro Is Laying the Groundwork for a Coup in BrazilHRC says she'll never run for president againBiden's speech and the danger of fascism in AmericaBiden broke his promise to waive Big Pharma's vaccine patents, and then tossed us the crumbs of lower prices on 10-20 drugs for 17.7% of Americans in 4-6 yearsJackson, Mississippi's water disaster is a crime of capitalismCity issues boil-water notice for West Baltimore after E. coli found in tap water at 3 locationsObama and Biden both can't "look soft" on terrorism, therefore "must" murder millions of peopleBuying Twitter Wouldn't Make Sense 'If We're Heading Into World War 3', Elon Musk Reportedly SaidLocationless Locationsheatdeathpod.comEvery show-related link is corralled and available here.Twitter: @heatdeathpodPlease send all Letters of Derision, Indifference, Inquiry, Mild Elation, et cetera to: heatdeathoftheuniversepodcast@gmail.com

Always Be Cool (ABC) Podcast - Bobby Kerr & Darren Copeland of SummitLendingUSA.com
#19 - Trent Green - 15 Year NFL QB & Pundit of Persistency, Kansas City Chiefs Legend

Always Be Cool (ABC) Podcast - Bobby Kerr & Darren Copeland of SummitLendingUSA.com

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 9, 2022 65:18


Born July 9th, 1970 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.Grew up in St. Louis and attended….Indiana University.In 1991, led the Hoosiers over a highly regarded Baylor Team in the Copper Bowl.Drafted in the 8th round of the 1993 Draft by the San Diego Chargers.Played QB in the NFL…..for 15 Seasons.One of 13 QB's in history to have completed a 99-yard pass play.Earned a Super Bowl Ring with the Rams and made 2 Pro Bowls with the KC Chiefs.Currently an NFL analyst for CBS Sports.Married to wife Julie…they have 3 amazing kids (T.J., Derek, and Janelle).Chiefs Legend and all around Awesome Guy….Trent Green…Welcome to the show.

The Lunar Society
38: Austin Vernon - Energy Superabundance, Starship Missiles, & Finding Alpha

The Lunar Society

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 8, 2022 144:32


Austin Vernon is an engineer working on a new method for carbon capture, and he has one of the most interesting blogs on the internet, where he writes about engineering, software, economics, and investing.We discuss how energy superabundance will change the world, how Starship can be turned into a kinetic weapon, why nuclear is overrated, blockchains, batteries, flying cars, finding alpha, & much more!Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast platform. Read the full transcript here.Subscribe to find out about future episodes!Follow Austin on Twitter. Follow me on Twitter for updates on future episodes.Please share if you enjoyed this episode! Helps out a ton!Timestamps(0:00:00) - Intro(0:01:53) - Starship as a Weapon(0:19:24) - Software Productivity(0:41:40) - Car Manufacturing(0:57:39) - Carbon Capture(1:16:53) - Energy Superabundance(1:25:09) - Storage for Cheap Energy(1:31:25) - Travel in Future(1:33:27) - Future Cities(1:39:58) - Flying Cars(1:43:26) - Carbon Shortage(1:48:03) - Nuclear(2:12:44) - Solar(2:14:44) - Alpha & Efficient Markets(2:22:51) - ConclusionTranscriptIntroDwarkesh Patel (00:00:00):Okay! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Austin Vernon who writes about engineering, software, economics, and investing on the internet, though not that much else is known about him. So Austin, do you want to give us a bit of info about your background? I know that the only thing the internet knows about you is this one little JPEG that you had to upload with your recent paper. But what about an identity reveal or I guess a little bit of a background reveal? Just to the extent that you're comfortable sharing.Austin Vernon (00:00:29):My degree is in chemical engineering and I've had a lifelong love for engineering as well as things like the Toyota Production System. I've also worked as a chemical engineer in a large processing facility where I've done a lot of petroleum engineering. I taught myself how to write software and now I'm working on more research and the early commercialization of CO2 electrolysis.Dwarkesh Patel (00:00:59):Okay yeah. I'm really interested in talking about all those things. The first question I have is from Alex Berger, who's the co-CEO of Open Philanthropy. When I asked on Twitter what I should ask you, he suggested that I should ask “Why so shady?” Famously you have kind of an anonymous personality, pseudonymous thing going on the internet. What's up with that?Austin Vernon (00:01:25):Yeah. I think he posted a tweet that said “I don't know who this guy is or if he's credible at all, but his stuff sure is interesting”. That really made me laugh. I thought that was hilarious. Fame just doesn't seem necessary, I think I'm fine with my ideas being well known and communicating, but I have less desire to be personally famous.Starship as a WeaponDwarkesh Patel (00:01:52):Gotcha, gotcha. I wanted to start off with a sexy topic, let's talk about using Starship as a kinetic weapon. I thought that was one of the more amusing posts you wrote. Do you want to talk more about how this would be possible?Austin Vernon (00:02:08):Well, I think the main thing with Starship is that you're taking a technology and you're making it about 100 times cheaper for cargo and 1000 times cheaper for people. When things like that happen that drastically, you're just looking at huge changes and it's really hard to anticipate what some of those can be when the change is that drastic. I think there's a lot of moon-based, Mars-based stuff that doesn't really catch the general public's eye. They also have trouble imagining some of the point-to-point travel that could be possible. But when you start talking about it as a weapon, then I think it lets people know they should be paying attention to this technology. And we certainly do not want to be second or third getting it. We should make sure that we're going to be first.Dwarkesh Patel (00:03:05):Yeah. I think you mentioned this in the post, but as recently as the '90s, the cost of sending one kilogram to space was around $20,000. More recently, SpaceX has brought it to $2,000. Lots of interesting questions pop up when you ask, “What will be possible once we get it down to $200 per kilogram to send into orbit?” One of them could be about how we might manufacture these weapons that are not conventional ballistics. Do you want to talk about why this might be an advancement over conventional ballistic weapons?Austin Vernon (00:03:37):Well, regular conventional ballistic weapons are extremely expensive. This is more like a bomb truck. But usually we think of B52 as the bomb truck and this could be even cheaper than the B52, delivering just mass on target. When you think about how expensive it is to fly a B52 from Barksdale in Louisiana all the way across the world.. you can do it from south Texas or Florida with the Starship and get more emissions per day and the fuel ends up being. When you go orbital, it takes a lot to get to orbit. But then once you're in orbit, your fuel consumption's pretty good. So over long distances, it has a lot of advantage. That's why the point-to-point works for longer distances.Austin Vernon (00:04:27):There's really a sweet spot with these weapons where you want it to be pretty accurate, but you also want it to be cheap. You're seeing that problem with Russia right now as they have some fancy parade style weapons that are really expensive, like multi-billion dollar cruise missiles, but they're missing that $5,000 guided artillery shell or that $20,000 JDM that you can just pit massive. Or the multiple launch rocket system, guided rockets. They're really short on all those because I think they had just had a limited amount of chips they could get from the US into Russia to make these advanced weapons.Austin Vernon (00:05:07):But yeah, so the Starship gives you just a platform to deliver. You could put JDMs in a shroud, or you could just have the iron unguided kinetic projectiles, and it just becomes impossible for a ship to launch missiles to intercept yours if your cost is so low, you can just overwhelm them.Dwarkesh Patel (00:05:29):Okay. There are a few terms there that neither I nor the audience might know. So what is JDM? What is shroud? And why are chips a bottleneck here? Why can't it just be any micro-controller?Austin Vernon (00:05:42):So JDM is Joint Direct Attack Munition. So what we did is we took all our Vietnam surplus bonds and we put this little fin-kit on it and it costs like $20,000, which is cheap for a weapon because the actual bond costs, I don't know, $3,000. And then it turns it into a guided weapon that, before you were probably lucky to get within 500 meters of a target, now you can get it in with two meters. So the number of missions you have to do with your planes and all that goes down by orders of magnitude. So it's an absolutely huge advantage in logistics and in just how much firepower you can put on a target. And we didn't even have to make new bombs, we just put these kits on all our old bombs.Austin Vernon (00:06:33):Let's see.. Yeah the chips are a problem. There's this organization called RUSI. I think they're in the UK, but they've been tearing down all these Russian weapons they found in Ukraine and they all have American chips in them. So technically, they're not supposed to be able to get these chips. And yet, Russia can't make a lot of its own chips. And especially not the specialized kinds you might want for guided weapons. So they've been somehow smuggling in chips from Americans to make their advanced weaponsDwarkesh Patel (00:07:03):What is special about these? As far as I'm aware, the trade with China is still going on and we get a lot of our chips manufactured from Taiwan or China. So why can't they do the same?Austin Vernon (00:07:14):It's the whole integration. It's not just the specific chip, but the board. They're more like PLCs where you almost have wired-in programming and they come with this ability to do the guidance and all that stuff. It all kind of has to work together. I think that's the way I understand it. I don't know. Maybe I don't have a really good answer for that one, but they're hard to replicate is what matters.Dwarkesh Patel (00:07:43):Okay that's interesting. Yeah, I guess that has a lot of interesting downstream effects, because for example, India buys a lot of its weapons from Russia. So if Russia doesn't have access to these, then other countries that buy from Russia won't have access to these either.Dwarkesh Patel (00:07:58):You had an interesting speculation in the post where you suggested that you could just keep these kinetic weapons in orbit, in a sort of Damocles state really, almost literally. That sounds like an incredibly scary and risky scenario where you could have orbital decay and you could have these kinetic weapons falling from the sky and destroying cities. Do you think this is what it will look like or could look like in 10 to 20 years?Austin Vernon (00:08:26):Well, yeah, so the advantage of having weapons on orbit is you can hit targets faster. So if you're launching the rocket from Florida, you're looking at maybe 30 minutes to get there and the target can move away in that time. Whereas if you're on orbit, you can have them spaced out to where you're hitting within a few minutes. So that's the advantage there.Austin Vernon (00:08:46):You really have to have a two stage system I think for most, because if you have a really aerodynamic rod that's going to give you really good performance in the low atmosphere, it'll end up going too fast and just burn up before it gets there. Tungsten's maybe the only thing that you could have that could go all the way through which is why I like the original concept of using these big tungsten rods the size of a telephone pole. But tungsten's pretty expensive. And the rod concept kind of limits what you can do.Austin Vernon (00:09:28):So a lot of these weapons will have, that's what I was talking about with the shroud, something that actually slows you down in the upper atmosphere. And then once you're at the velocity where you're not just going to melt, then you open it up and let it go. So if you actually had it fall from the sky, some may make it to the ground, but a lot would burn up. So a lot of the stuff that makes it to the ground is actually pretty light. It's stuff that can float and has a large surface area. Yeah, that's the whole thing with Starship. Or not Starship, but Starlink. All those satellites are meant to completely fall apart on de-orbit.Dwarkesh Patel (00:10:09):I see. One of the implications of that is that these may be less powerful than we might fear, because since kinetic energy is mass times velocity squared and there's an upper bound on the velocity (velocity being the component that grows the kinetic energy faster), then it suggests that you can upper bound the power these things will have. You know what I mean?Austin Vernon (00:10:32):Yeah, so even the tungsten rods. Sometimes people, they're not very good at physics, so they don't do the math. They think it's going to be a nuclear weapon, but it's really not. I think even the tungsten rod is like 10 tons of T&T or something. It's a big bomb, but it's not a super weapon.Austin Vernon (00:10:54):So I think I said in the post, it's about using advanced missiles where they're almost more defensive weapons so I can keep you from pitting your ship somewhere. Yeah I could try to bombard your cities, but I can't take ground with it. I can't even police sea lanes with it really. I'd still have to use regular ships if I had this air cover to go enforce the rules of the sea and stuff like that.Dwarkesh Patel (00:11:23):Yeah. You speculated in the post, I think, that you could load this up with shrapnel and then it could explode next to an incoming missile or an incoming aircraft. Could these get that accurate? Because that was surprising speculation to me.Austin Vernon (00:11:43):I think for ships, it's pretty... I was watching videos of how fast a ship can turn and stuff. If you're going to do an initial target on a ship to try to kill their radars, you'd want to do it above the ceiling of their missiles. So it's like, how much are they going to move between your release where you stop steering and that? The answer's maybe 1000 feet. So that's pretty simple because you just shrapnel the area.Austin Vernon (00:12:12):Targeting aircraft, you would be steering all the way in. I'd say it's doable, but it'd be pretty hard. You'd actually maybe want to even go slower than you would with the ship attack. You'd need a specialized package to attack the aircraft, but if you have enough synthetic aperture radar and stuff like that, you could see these aircraft using satellites and then guide the bomb in the whole way. You could even load heat seeking missiles into a package that unfurls right next to them and launch conventional missiles too, probably. It'd be pretty hard to do some of this stuff, but they're just the things you might be able to do if you put some effort into it.Dwarkesh Patel (00:12:57):Yeah. The reason I find this kind of speculation really interesting is because when you look at the modern weaponry that's used in conflicts, it just seems directly descendant from something you would've seen in World War II or something. If you think about how much warfare changed between 1900 and 1940, it's like, yeah, they're not even the same class of weapons anymore. So it's interesting to think about possibilities like these where the entire category of weapons has changed.Austin Vernon (00:13:33):You're right and that's because our physical technology hasn't changed that much. So it really has just made more sense to put better electronics in the same tanks. We haven't learned enough about tanks to build a new physical tank that's way better, so we just keep upgrading our existing tanks with better electronics. They're much more powerful, they're more accurate. A lot of times, they have longer range weapons and better sensors. So the tank looks the same, but it maybe has several times more killing power. But the Ukraine war right now, they're using a lot of 40, 50 year old weapons so that especially looks like that.Dwarkesh Patel (00:14:20):Yeah. Which kind of worries you if you think about the stockpiles our own military has. I'm not well educated on the topic, but I imagine that we don't have the newest of the new thing. We probably have maintained versions of decades old technology.Austin Vernon (00:14:35):We spend so much, we've got relatively... This kind of gets into debate about how ready our military is. For certain situations, it's more ready than others. I'd say in general, most people talking about it have the incentive to downplay our capabilities because they want more defense spending. There's lots of reasons. So I think we're probably more capable than what you might see from some editorial in The Hill or whatever. Us just sending a few weapons over to Ukraine and seeing how successful they've been at using them, I think, shows a little bit of that.Austin Vernon (00:15:18):There's so much uncertainty when it comes to fighting, especially when you're talking about a naval engagement, where we don't just don't have that many ships in general… you can have some bad luck. So I think you always want to be a little bit wary. You don't want to get overconfident.Dwarkesh Patel (00:15:37):Yeah. And if the offensive tech we sent to Ukraine is potentially better than the defensive tech, it's very possible that even a ballistic missile that China or Russia could launch would sink a battleship and then kill the 2,000 or 1,000 whatever soldiers that are on board. Or I guess, I don't know, you think this opens up avenues for defensive tech as well?Austin Vernon (00:16:03):Yeah––generally the consensus is that defensive technology has improved much more recently than offensive technology. This whole strategy China has is something they call anti-access/area denial, A2/AD. That's basically just how missiles have gotten better because the sensors on missiles have gotten better. So they can keep our ships from getting close to them but they can't really challenge us in Hawaii or something. And it really goes both ways, I think people forget that. So yeah, it's hard for us to get close to China, but Taiwan has a lot of missiles with these new sensors as well. So I think it's probably tougher for China to do it close to Taiwan than most people would say.Dwarkesh Patel (00:16:55):Oh, interesting. Yeah, can you talk more about that? Because every time I read about this, people are saying that if China wanted to, they could knock out Taiwan's defenses in a short amount of time and take it over. Yeah, so can you talk about why that's not possible?Austin Vernon (00:17:10):Well, it might be, but I think it's a guess of the uncertainty [inaudible 00:17:14]. Taiwan has actually one of the largest defense budgets in the world and they've recently been upping it. I think they spend, I don't know, $25 billion a year and they added an extra $5 billion. And they've been buying a lot of anti-ship missiles, a lot of air defense missiles.. Stuff that Ukraine could only dream of. I think Ukraine's military budget was $2 billion and they have a professional army. And then the other thing is Taiwan's an island, whereas Russia could just roll over the land border into Ukraine.Austin Vernon (00:17:44):There's just been very few successful amphibious landings in history. The most recent ones were all the Americans in World War II and Korea. So the challenge there is just... It's kind of on China to execute perfectly and do that. So if they had perfect execution, then possibly it would be feasible. But if their air defenses on their ships aren't quite as good as we think they could possibly be, then they could also end up with half their fleet underwater within 10 hours.Dwarkesh Patel (00:18:20):Interesting. And how has your view of Taiwan's defensive capabilities changed... How has the Ukraine conflict updated your opinion on what might happen?Austin Vernon (00:18:29):I didn't really know how much about it. And then I started looking at Wikipedia and stuff and all this stuff they're doing. Taiwan just has a lot of modern platforms like F16s with our anti-ship missiles. They actually have a lot of their own. They have indigenous fighter bombers, indigenous anti-ship missiles because they're worried we might not always sell them to them.Austin Vernon (00:18:54):They've even recently gotten these long range cruise missiles that could possibly target leadership in Beijing. So I think that makes it uncomfortable for the Chinese leadership. If you attack them, you're going to have to go live in a bunker. But again, I'm not a full-time military analyst or something, so there's a lot of uncertainty around what I'm saying. It's not a given that China's just going to roll over them.Software ProductivityDwarkesh Patel (00:19:22):Okay. That's comforting to hear. Let's talk about an area where I have a little bit of a point of contact. I thought your blog post about software and the inability of it to increase productivity numbers, I thought that was super fascinating. So before I ask you questions about it, do you want to lay out the thesis there?Austin Vernon (00:19:43):Yeah. So if there's one post I kind of felt like I caught lightning in a bottle on, it's that one. Everything I wanted to put in, it just fit together perfectly, which is usually not the case.Austin Vernon (00:19:55):I think the idea is that the world's so complex and we really underestimate that complexity. If you're going to digitize processes and automate them and stuff, you have to capture all that complexity basically at the bit level, and that's extremely difficult. And then you also have diminishing returns where the easily automatable stuff goes first and then it's increasing corner cases to get to the end, so you just have to go through more and more code basically. We don't see runaway productivity growth from software because we're fighting all this increasing complexity.Dwarkesh Patel (00:20:39):Yeah. Have you heard of the waterbed theory of complexity by the way?Austin Vernon (00:20:42):I don't think so.Dwarkesh Patel (00:20:44):Okay. It's something that comes up in compiler design: the idea is that there's a fixed amount of complexity in a system. If you try to reduce it, what you'll end up doing is just you'll end up migrating the complexity elsewhere. I think an example that's used of this is when they try to program languages that are not type safe, something like Python. You can say, “oh, it's a less complex language”, but really, you've added complexity when, I don't know, two different types of numbers are interacting like a float and an int. As your program grows, that complexity exponentially grows along with all the things that could go wrong when you're making two things interact in a way that you were expecting not to. So yeah, the idea is you can just choose where to have your complexity, but you can't get rid of that complexity.Austin Vernon (00:21:38):I think that's kind of an interesting thing when you start pairing it with management theory... when you add up all the factors, the most complex thing you're doing is high volume car manufacturing. And so we got a lot of innovations and organization from car manufacturers like the assembly line. Then you had Sloan at GM basically creating the way the modern corporation is run, then you have the Toyota Production System.Austin Vernon (00:22:11):But arguably now, creating software is actually the most complex thing we do. So there's all these kinds of squishy concepts that underlie things like the Toyota Production System that softwares had to learn and reimagine and adopt and you see that with Agile where, “oh, we can't have long release times. We need to be releasing every day,” which means we're limiting inventory there.Austin Vernon (00:22:42):There's a whole thing especially that's showing up in software that existed in carbon manufacturing where you're talking about reducing communication. So Jeff Bezos kind of now famously said, "I want to reduce communication," which is counterintuitive to a lot of people. This is age-old in car manufacturing where Toyota has these cards that go between workstations and they tell you what to do. So people normally think of them as limiting inventory, but it also tells the worker exactly what they're supposed to be doing at what pace, at what time. The assembly line is like that too. You just know what to do because you're standing there and there's a part here and it needs to go on there, and it comes by at the pace you're supposed to work at.Austin Vernon (00:23:29):It's so extreme that there's this famous paper, by List, Syverson and Levitt. They went to a car factory and studied how defects propagated in cars and stuff. Once a car factory gets up and running, it doesn't matter what workers you put in there, if workers are sick or you get new workers, the defect rate is the same. So all the knowledge is built into the manufacturing line.Austin Vernon (00:23:59):There's these concepts around idiot-proofing and everything that are very similar to what you'll see. You had Uncle Bob on here. So Uncle Bob says only put one input into a function and stuff like that because you'll mix them up otherwise. The Japanese call it poka-yoke. You make it where you can't mess it up. And that's another way to reduce communication, and then software, of course you have APIs.Austin Vernon (00:24:28):So I'm really interested in this overall concept of reducing communication, and reducing how much cooperation and everything we need to run the economy.Dwarkesh Patel (00:24:41):Right. Right. Speaking of the Toyota Production System, one thing they do to reduce that defect rate is if there's a problem, all the workers in that chain are forced to go to the place where the defect problem is and fix it before doing anything else. The idea there is that this will give them context to understand what the problem was and how to make sure it doesn't happen again. It also prevents a build up of inventory in a way that keeps making these defects happen or just keeps accumulating inventory before the place that can fix the defects is able to take care of them.Austin Vernon (00:25:17):Right. Yeah, yeah. Exactly.Dwarkesh Patel (00:25:19):Yeah. But I think one interesting thing about software and complexity is that software is a place where complexity is the highest in our world right now but software gives you the choice to interface with the complexity you want to interface with. I guess that's just part of specialization in general, but you could say for example that a machine learning model is really complex, but ideally, you get to a place where that's the only kind of complexity you have to deal with. You're not having to deal with the complexity of “How is this program compiled? How are the libraries that I'm using? How are they built?” You can fine tune and work on the complexity you need to work on.Dwarkesh Patel (00:26:05):It's similar to app development. Byrne Hobart has this blog post about Stripe as solid state. The basic idea is that Stripe hides all the complexity of the financial system: it charges a higher fee, but you can just treat it as an abstraction of a tithe you have to pay, and it'll just take care of that entire process so you can focus on your comparative advantage.Austin Vernon (00:26:29):It's really actually very similar in car manufacturing and the Toyota Production System if you really get into it. It's very much the same conceptual framework. There's this whole idea in Toyota Production System, everyone works at the same pace, which you kind of talked about. But also, your work content is the same. There's no room for not standardizing a way you're going to do things. So everyone gets together and they're like, “All right, we're going to do this certain part. We're going to put it together this certain way at this little micro station. And it's going to be the same way every time.” That's part of how they're reducing the defect rates. If your assembly process is longer than what your time allotment is to stay in touch with the rest of the process, then you just keep breaking it down into smaller pieces. So through this, each person only has to know a very small part of it.Austin Vernon (00:27:33):The overall engineering team has all sorts of strategies and all sorts of tools to help them break up all these processes into very small parts and make it all hold together. It's still very, very hard, but it's kind of a lot of the same ideas because you're taking away the complexity of making a $30,000 car or 30,000 part car where everyone's just focusing on their one little part and they don't care what someone else is doing.Dwarkesh Patel (00:28:06):Yeah. But the interesting thing is that it seems like you need one person who knows how everything fits together. Because from what I remember, one of the tenets of the Toyota Production System was you need to have a global view. So, in that book, was it the machine or the other one, the Toyota Production System book? But anyways, they were talking about examples where people would try to optimize for local efficiencies. I think they especially pointed to Ford and GM for trying to do this where they would try to make machines run all the time. And locally, you could say that, “oh this machine or process is super efficient. It's always outputting stuff.” But it ignores how that added inventory or that process had a bad consequence for the whole system.Dwarkesh Patel (00:28:50):And so it's interesting if you look at a company like Tesla that's able to do this really well. Tesla is run like a monarchy and this one guy has this total global view of how the entire process is supposed to run and where you have these inefficiencies.. You had some great examples of this in the blog post. I think one of the examples is this guy (the author) goes to this factory and he asks, "Is this an efficient factory?" And the guy's like, "Yeah, this is totally efficient. There's nothing we can do, adopting the Toyota way, to make this more efficient."Dwarkesh Patel (00:29:22):And so then he's like, "Okay, let me look." And he finds that they're treating steel in some way, and the main process does only take a couple of seconds, but some local manager decided that it would be more efficient to ship their parts out, to get the next stage of the process done somewhere else. So this is locally cheaper, but the result is that it takes weeks to get these parts shipped out and get them back. Which means that the actual time that the parts spend getting processed is 0.1% of the time, making the whole process super inefficient. So I don't know, it seems like the implication is you need a very monarchical structure, with one person who has a total view, in order to run such a system. Or am I getting that wrong?Austin Vernon (00:30:12):Not necessarily. I mean, you do have to make sure you're not optimizing locally, but I think it's the same. You have that same constraint in software, but I think a lot of times people are just running over it because processing has been getting so much cheaper. People are expensive, so if you could save development time, it just ends up the trade offs are different when you're talking about the tyranny of physical items and stuff like that, the constraints get a little more severe. But I think you have the same overall. You still have to fight local optimization, but the level you have to is probably different with physical goods.Austin Vernon (00:30:55):I was thinking about the smart grid situation from a software perspective, and there's this problem where, okay, I'm putting my solar farm here and it's impacting somewhere far away, and that's then creating these really high upgrade costs, that cost two or three times more than my solar farm. Well, the obvious thing would be, if you're doing software, is like you're going to break all these up into smaller sections, and then you wouldn't be impacting each other and all that, and you could work and focus on your own little thing.Austin Vernon (00:31:29):But the problem with that is if you're going to disconnect these areas of the grid, the equipment to do that is extremely expensive. It's not like I'm just going to hit a new tab and open a new file and start writing a new function. And not only that, but you still have to actually coordinate how this equipment is going to operate. So if you just let the grid flow as it does, everyone knows what's going to happen because they could just calculate the physics. If you start adding in all these checkpoints where humans are doing stuff, then you have to actually interface with the humans, and the amount of things that can happen really starts going up. So it's actually a really bad idea to try to cart all this stuff off, just because of the reality of the physical laws and the equipment you need and everything like that.Dwarkesh Patel (00:32:22):Okay. Interesting. And then I think you have a similar Coasean argument in your software post about why vertically integrating software is beneficial. Do you want to explain that thesis?Austin Vernon (00:32:34):Yeah. I think it actually gets to what we're talking about here, where it allows you to avoid the local optimization. Because a lot of times you're trying to build a software MVP, and you're tying together a few services… they don't do quite what you need, so if you try to scale that, it would just break. But if you're going to take a really complex process, like car manufacturing or retail distribution, or the home buying process or something, you really have to vertically integrate it to be able to create a decent end-to-end experience and avoid that local optimization.Austin Vernon (00:33:20):And it's just very hard otherwise, because you just can't coordinate effectively if you have 10 different vendors trying to do all the same thing. You end up in just constant vendor meetings, where you're trying to decide what the specs are or something instead of giving someone the authority, or giving a team the authority to just start building stuff. Then if you look at these companies, they have to implement these somewhat decentralized processes when they get too complex, but at least they have control over how they're interfacing with each other. Walmart, as the vendors, control their own stock. They don't tell the vendor, "We need X parts." It's just like, it's on you to make sure your shelf is stocked.Dwarkesh Patel (00:34:07):Yeah. Yeah. So what was really interesting to me about this part of the post was, I don't know, I guess I had heard of this vision of we're software setting, where everybody will have a software as a service company, and they'll all be interfacing with each other in some sort of cycle where they're all just calling each other's APIs. And yeah, basically everybody and their mother would have a SAAS company. The implication here was, from your argument, that given the necessity of integrating all those complexity vertically in a coherent way, then the winners in software should end up being a few big companies, right? They compete with each other, but still...Austin Vernon (00:34:49):I think that's especially true when you're talking about combining bits and apps. Maybe less true for pure software. The physical world is just so much more complex, and so the constraints it creates are pretty extreme, compared to like... you could maybe get away with more of everyone and their mom having an API in a pure software world.Dwarkesh Patel (00:35:14):Right. Yeah. I guess, you might think that even in the physical world, given that people really need to focus on their comparative advantage, they would just try to outsource the software parts to these APIs. But is there any scenario where the learning curve for people who are not in the firm can be fast enough that they can keep up with the complexity? Because there's huge gains for specialization and competition that go away if this is the world we're forced to live in. And then I guess we have a lot of counter examples, or I guess we have a lot of examples of what you're talking about. Like Apple is the biggest market cap in the world, right? And famously they're super vertically integrated. And yeah, obviously their thing is combining hardware and software. But yeah, is there any world in which it can keep that kind of benefit, but have it be within multiple firms?Austin Vernon (00:36:10):This is a post I've got on my list I want to write. The blockchain application, which excites me personally the most, is reimagining enterprise software. Because the things you're talking about, like hard typing and APIs are just basically built into some of these protocols. So I think it just really has a lot of exciting implications for how much you can decentralize software development. But the thing is, you can still do that within the firm. So I think I mentioned this, if the government's going to place all these rules on the edge of the firm, it makes transactions with other firms expensive. So a few internal transactions can be cheaper, because they're avoiding the government reporting and taxes and all that kind of stuff. So I think you'd have to think about how these technologies can reduce transaction costs overall and decentralize that, but also what are the costs between firms?Dwarkesh Patel (00:37:22):Yeah, it's really interesting if the costs are logistic, or if they're based on the knowledge that is housed, as you were talking about, within a factory or something. Because if it is just logistical and stuff, like you had to report any outside transactions, then it does imply that those technology blockchain could help. But if it is just that you need to be in the same office, and if you're not, then you're going to have a hard time keeping up with what the new requirements for the API are, then maybe it's that, yeah, maybe the inevitability is that you'll have these big firms that are able to vertically integrate.Austin Vernon (00:37:59):Yeah, for these big firms to survive, they have to be somewhat decentralized within them. So I think you have... you're going to the same place as just how are we viewing it, what's our perception? So even if it's a giant corporation, it's going to have very independent business units as opposed to something like a 1950s corporation.Dwarkesh Patel (00:38:29):Yeah. Byrne Hobart, by the way, has this really interesting post that you might enjoy reading while you're writing that post. It's type safe communications, and it's about that Bezos thing, about his strict style for how to communicate and how little to communicate. There's many examples in Amazon protocols where you have to... the only way you can put in this report, is in this place you had to give a number. You can't just say, "This is very likely," you had to say like, "We project X percent increase," or whatever. So it has to be a percent. And there's many other cases where they're strict about what type definition you can have in written reports or something. It has kind of the same consequence that type strict languages have, which is that you can keep track of what the value is through the entire chain of the flow of control.Austin Vernon (00:39:22):You've got to keep work content standardized.Dwarkesh Patel (00:39:26):So we've been hinting at the Coasean analysis to this. I think we just talked about it indirectly, but for the people who might not know, Coase has this paper called The Theory of Firms, and he's trying to explain why we have firms at all. Why not just have everybody compete in the open market for employment, for anything? Why do we have jobs? Why not just have... you can just hire a secretary by the day or something.Dwarkesh Patel (00:39:51):And the conclusion he comes to is that by having a firm you're reducing the transaction cost. So people will have the same knowledge about what needs to get done, obviously you're reducing the transaction cost of contracting, finding labor, blah, blah, blah. And so the conclusion it comes to is the more the transaction costs are reduced within people in a firm, as compared to the transaction cost between different firms, the bigger firms will get. So I guess that's why the implication of your argument was that there should be bigger tech firms, right?Austin Vernon (00:40:27):Yes, yes, definitely. Because they can basically decrease the transaction costs faster within, and then even at the limit, if you have large transaction costs outside the firm, between other firms that are artificially imposed, then it will make firms bigger.Dwarkesh Patel (00:40:45):What does the world look like in that scenario? So would it just be these Japanese companies, these huge conglomerates who are just... you rise through the ranks, from the age of 20 until you die? Is that what software will turn into?Austin Vernon (00:40:59):It could be. I mean, I think it will be lots of very large companies, unless there's some kind of change in inner firm transaction costs. And again, that could possibly come from blockchain like technology, but you probably also need better regulation to make that cheaper, and then you would have smaller firms. But again, in the end, it doesn't really matter. You'd be working in your little unit of the big bank of corporate, or whatever. So I don't know what that would look like on a personal level.Car ManufacturingDwarkesh Patel (00:41:40):Yeah. Okay. So speaking of these Japanese companies, let's talk about car manufacturing and everything involved there. Yeah, so we kind of hinted at a few elements of the Toyota way and production earlier, but do you want to give a brief overview of what that is, so we can compare it to potentially other systems?Austin Vernon (00:42:02):I think all these kinds of lean Toyota process systems, they do have a lot of similarities, where mostly you want to even-out your production, so you're producing very consistently, and you want to break it into small steps and you want to limit the amount of inventory you have in your system. When you do this, it makes it easy to see how the process is running and limit defects. And the ultimate is you're really trying to reduce defects, because they're very expensive. It's a little bit hard to summarize. I think that's my best shot at it there, quickly off the top of my head.Dwarkesh Patel (00:42:49):Yeah. The interesting thing about the Toyota system, so at least when the machine was released, is they talk about... that book was released I think the nineties, and they went to the history of Toyota, and one of the interesting things they talked about was there was a brief time where the company ran... I think, was this after World War II? But anyways, the company ran into some troubles. They needed to layoff people to not go bankrupt. They had much more debt on books than they had assets. So yeah, they wanted to layoff people, but obviously the people were not happy about this, so there were violent protests about this. And in fact I think the US written constitution gave strong protections to labor that they hadn't had before, which gave labor an even stronger hand here.Dwarkesh Patel (00:43:42):So anyway, Toyota came to this agreement with the unions that they'd be allowed to do this one time layoff to get the company on the right track, but afterwards they could never lay somebody off. Which would mean that a person who works at Toyota works there from the time they graduate college or high school till they die. Right? I don't know, that's super intense in a culture. I mean, in software, where you have the average tenure in a company's one year, the difference is so much.Dwarkesh Patel (00:44:13):And there's so many potential benefits here, I guess a lot of drawbacks too. But one is, obviously if you're talking in a time scale of 50 years, rather than one year, the incentives are more aligned between the company and the person. Because anything you could do in one year is not going to have a huge impact on your stock options in that amount of time. But if this company's your retirement plan, then you have a much stronger incentive to make sure that things at this company run well, which means you're probably optimizing for the company's long term cash flow yourself. And also, there's obviously benefits to having that knowledge built up in the firm from people who have been there for a long time. But yeah, that was an interesting difference. One of the interesting differences, at least.Austin Vernon (00:45:00):I mean, I think there's diminishing returns to how long your tenure's going to be. Maybe one year's too short, but there's a certain extent to where, if you grow faster than your role at the company, then it's time to switch. It's going to depend on the person, but maybe five years is a good number. And so if you're not getting promoted within the firm, then your human capital's being wasted, because you could go somewhere else and have more responsibility and perform better for them. Another interesting thing about that story, is almost all lean turnarounds, where they're like, we're going to implement something like Toyota production system, they come with no layoff promises. Because if you're going to increase productivity, that's when everyone's like, "Oh gosh, I'm going to get laid off." So instead you have to increase output and take more market share, is what you do.Dwarkesh Patel (00:46:00):It's kind of like burning your bridges, right? So this is the only way.Austin Vernon (00:46:05):The process really requires complete buy-in, because a lot of your ideas for how you're going to standardize work content come from your line workers, because that's what they're doing every day. So if you don't have their buy-in, then it's going to fail. So that's why it's really necessary to have those kinds of clauses.Dwarkesh Patel (00:46:22):Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. I think it was in your post where you said, if somebody makes their process more efficient, and therefore they're getting more work allotted to them, then obviously they're going to stop doing that. Right? Which means that, I don't know, do you ought to give more downtime to your best workers or something or the people who are most creative in your company?Austin Vernon (00:46:48):I was just going to say, if you're a worker at a plant, then a lot of times for that level of employee, actually small rewards work pretty well. A lot of people on drilling rigs used to give the guys that met certain targets $100 Walmart gift cards. So sometimes small, it's a reward, new ideas, stuff like that works.Austin Vernon (00:47:15):But because the whole system has to grow together, if you just improve one part of the process, it may not help you. You have to be improving all the right processes so normally it's much more collaborative. There's some engineer that's looking at it and like, "All right, this is where we're struggling," or "We have our defects here." And then you go get together with that supervisor and the workers in that area, then you all figure out what improvements could be together. Because usually the people already know. This is like, you see a problem at the top, and you're just now realizing it. Then you go talk to the people doing the work, and they're like, "Oh yeah, I tried to tell you about that two weeks ago, man." And then you figure out a better process from there.Dwarkesh Patel (00:47:58):Based on your recommendation, and Steven Malina's recommendation, I recently read The Goal. And after reading the book, I'm much more understanding of the value that consultants bring to companies, potentially. Because before you could think, “What does a 21 year old, who just graduated college, know about manufacturing? What are they going to tell this plant that they didn't already know? How could they possibly be adding value?” And afterwards, it occurred to me that there's so many abstract concepts that are necessary to understand in order to be able to increase your throughput. So now I guess I can see how somebody who's generically smart but doesn't have that much industry knowledge might be able to contribute to a plan and value consultants could be bringing.Austin Vernon (00:48:43):I think this applies to consultants or young engineers. A lot of times you put young engineers just right in the thick of it, working in production or process right on the line, where you're talking to the workers the most. And there's several advantages to that. One, the engineer learns faster, because they're actually seeing the real process, and the other is there's easy opportunities for them to still have a positive impact on the business, because there's $100 bills laying on the ground just from going up and talking to your workers and learning about stuff and figuring out problems they might be having and finding out things like that that could help you lower cost. I think there's a lot of consultants that... I don't know how the industry goes, but I would guess there's... I know Accenture has 600,000 employees. I don't know if that many, but it's just a large number, and a lot are doing more basic tasks and there are some people that are doing the more high level stuff, but it's probably a lot less.Dwarkesh Patel (00:49:51):Yeah. Yeah. There was a quote from one of those books that said, "At Toyota we don't consider you an engineer unless you need to wash your hands before you can have lunch." Yeah. Okay. So in your blog post about car manufacturing, you talk about Tesla. But what was really interesting is that in a footnote, I think you mentioned that you bought Tesla stocks in 2014, which also might be interesting to talk about again when we go to the market and alpha part. But anyways. Okay. And then you talk about Tesla using something called metal manufacturing. So first of all, how did you know in 2014 that Tesla was headed here? And what is metal manufacturing and how does it differ from the Toyota production system?Austin Vernon (00:50:42):Yeah. So yeah, I just was goofing around and made that up. Someone actually emailed me and they were like, "Hey, what is this metal manufacturing? I want to learn more about this." It's like, "Well, sorry, I just kind of made that up, because I thought it sounded funny." But yeah, I think it's really the idea that there's this guy, Dimming, and he found a lot of the same ideas that Toyota ended up implementing, and Toyota respected his ideas a lot. America never really got fully on board with this in manufacturing. Of course it's software people that are coming and implementing this and manufacturing now which is like the real American way of doing things.Austin Vernon (00:51:32):Because when you look at these manufacturing processes, the best place to save money and optimize is before you ever build the process or the plant. It's very early on. So I think if there's a criticism of Toyota, it's that they're optimizing too late and they're not creative enough in their production technology and stuff. They're very conservative, and that's why they have hydrogen cars and not battery cars, even though they came out with the Prius, which was the first large sales hybrid.Austin Vernon (00:52:12):So yeah, I think what Tesla's doing with really just making Dimming's ideas our own and really just Americanizing it with like, "Oh, well, we want to cast this, because that would be easier." Well, we can't, because we don't have an alloy. "We'll invent the alloy." I love it. It's great. Mostly, I love Tesla because they do such... I agree with their engineering principles. So I didn't know that the company would come to be so valuable. It's just, I was just always reading their stock reports and stuff so I was like, "Well, at least I need to buy some stock so that I have a justification for spending all this time reading their 10 Ks."Dwarkesh Patel (00:52:53):I want to get a little bit more in detail about the exact difference here. So lean production, I guess, is they're able to produce their cars without defects and with matching demand or whatever. But what is it about their system that prevents them from making the kinds of innovations that Tesla is able to make?Austin Vernon (00:53:16):It's just too incremental. It's so hard to get these processes working. So the faster you change things, it becomes very, very difficult to change the whole system. So one of the advantages Tesla has is, well, if you're making electric cars, you have just a lot less parts. So that makes it easier. And once you start doing the really hard work of basically digitizing stuff, like they don't have speed limit dials, you start just removing parts from the thing and you can actually then start increasing your rate of change even faster.Austin Vernon (00:53:55):It makes it harder to get behind if you have these old dinosaur processes. But I think there's a YouTube channel called The Limiting Factor, and he actually went into the detail of numbers on what it costs for Tesla to do their giga-casting, which saves tons of parts and deletes zillions of thousands of robots from their process. If you already have an existing stamping line and all that, where you're just changing the dyes based on your model, then it doesn't make sense to switch to the casting. But if you're building new factories, like Tesla is, well, then it makes sense to do the casting and you can build new factories very cheaply and comparatively and much easier. So there's a little bit of... they just have lots of technical data, I guess you could say, in a software sense.Dwarkesh Patel (00:54:47):Yeah. That's super interesting. The analogy is actually quite... it's like, Microsoft has probably tens of thousands of software engineers who are just basically servicing its technical debt and making sure that the old systems run properly, whereas a new company like Tesla doesn't have to deal with that. The thing that's super interesting about Tesla is like, Tesla's market cap is way over a trillion, right? And then Toyota's is 300 billion. And Tesla is such a new company. The fact that you have this Toyota, which is legendary for its production system, and this company that's less than two decades old is worth many times more, it's kind of funny.Austin Vernon (00:55:32):Yeah. I would say that, in that measure, I don't like market cap. You need to use enterprise value. These old car companies have so much debt, that if you look at enterprise value, it's not so jarring. Literally, I don't know, I can't remember what GM's worth, like 40 billion or something, and then they have $120 billion in debt. So their enterprise value is five times more than their market cap.Dwarkesh Patel (00:56:02):What is enterprise value?Austin Vernon (00:56:03):Enterprise value is basically what is the value of the actual company before you have any claims on it. It's the market cap plus your debt. But basically, if you're the equity holder and the company gets sold, you have to pay the debt first. So you only get the value of what's left over after the debt. So that's why market cap is... when Tesla has very little debt and a lot of market cap, and then these other guys have a lot of debt with less market cap, it skews the comparison.Dwarkesh Patel (00:56:34):Yeah, and one of the interesting things, it's similar to your post on software, is that it seems like one of the interesting themes across your work is automating processes often leads to decreased eventual throughput, because you're probably adding capacity in a place that you're deciding excess capacity, and you're also making the money part of your operation less efficient by have it interface with this automated part. It sounds like there's a similar story there with car manufacturing, right?Austin Vernon (00:57:08):Yeah. I think if we tie it back into what we were talking about earlier, automation promotes local optimization and premature optimization. So a lot of times it's better to figure out, instead of automating a process to make a really hard to make part, you should just figure out how to make that part easy to make. Then after you do that, then it may not even make sense to automate it anymore. Or get rid of it all together, then you just delete all those robots.Austin's Carbon Capture ProjectDwarkesh Patel (00:57:37):Yeah. Yeah, that's interesting. Okay. So let's talk about the project that you're working on right now, the CO2 electrolysis. Do you want to explain what this is, and what your current approach is? What is going on here?Austin Vernon (00:57:55):Yeah, so I think just overall, electrofuels right now are super underrated, because you're about to get hopefully some very cheap electricity from solar, or it could be, maybe, some land. If we get really lucky, possibly some nuclear, geothermal. It'll just make sense to create liquid fuels, or natural gas, or something just from electricity and air, essentially.Austin Vernon (00:58:25):There's a whole spectrum of ways to do this, so O2 electrolysis is one of those. Basically, you take water, electricity, and CO2, and a catalyst. And then, you make more complex molecules, like carbon monoxide, or formic acid, or ethylene, or ethanol, or methane or methine. Those are all options. But it's important to point out that, right now, I think if you added up all the CO2 electrolyzers in the world, you'd be measuring their output and kilograms per day. We make millions of tons per day off of the products I just mentioned. So there's a massive scale up if it's going to have a wider impact.Austin Vernon (00:59:15):So there's some debate. I think the debate for the whole electrofuels sector is: How much are you going to do in the electrolyzer? One company whose approach I really like is Terraform Industries. They want to make methane, which is the main natural gas. But they're just making hydrogen in their electrolyzer, and then they capture the CO2 and then put it into a methanation reaction. So everything they're doing is already world scale, basically.Austin Vernon (00:59:47):We've had hydrogen electrolyzers power fertilizer plants, providing them with the Hydrogen that they need. Methanation happens in all ammonia plants and several other examples. It's well known, very old. Methanation is hydrogen CO2 combined to make water and methane. So their approach is more conservative, but if you do more in the electrolyzer, like I'm going to make the methane actually in the electrolyzer instead of adding this other process, you could potentially have a much simpler process that has less CapEx and scales downward better. Traditional chemical engineering heavily favors scaling. With the more Terraform processes, they're playing as absolutely ginormous factories. These can take a long time to build.Austin Vernon (01:00:42):So one of the things they're doing is: they're having to fight the complexity that creeps into chemical engineering every step of the way. Because if they don't, they'll end up with a plant that takes 10 years to build, and that's not their goal. It takes 10 years to build a new refinery, because they're so complex. So yeah, that's where I am. I'm more on the speculative edge, and it's not clear yet which products will be favorable for which approaches.Dwarkesh Patel (01:01:15):Okay, yeah. And you're building this out of your garage, correct?Austin Vernon (01:01:19):Yeah. So that's where electrolyzers... Everything with electric chemistry is a flat plate instead of a vessel, so it scales down. So I can have a pretty good idea of what my 100 square centimeter electrolyzer is going to do, if I make it quite a bit bigger. I have to worry about how my flow might interact in the larger one and make sure the mixing's good, but it's pretty straightforward because you're just making your flat plate a larger area. Whereas the scale, it is different from scaling a traditional chemical process.Dwarkesh Patel (01:01:56):I'm curious how cheap energy has to be before this is efficient. If you're turning it into methane or something like that, presumably for fuel, is the entire process energy positive? Or how cheap would energy, electricity you need to get before that's the case?Austin Vernon (01:02:18):The different products and different methods have different crossovers. So Terraform Industries, they're shooting for $10 a megawatt hour for electricity. But again, their process is simpler, a little less efficient than a lot of the other products. They also have better premiums, just worth more per ton than methane. So your crossover happens somewhere in between $10 and $20 a megawatt hour, which is... I mean, that's pretty... Right now, solar, it's maybe like $25. Maybe it's a little higher because payment prices have gone up in the last year, but I think the expectation is they'll come back down. And so, getting down to $15 where you start having crossovers for some of these products like ethanol or ethylene or methanol, it's not science fiction.Dwarkesh Patel (01:03:08):I think in Texas where I live, that's where it's at right? The cost of energy is 20 or something dollars per megawatt hour.Austin Vernon (01:03:16):Well, not this summer! But yeah, a lot of times in Texas, the wholesale prices are around $25 to $30.Dwarkesh Patel (01:03:26):Gotcha. Okay. Yeah. So a lot of the actual details you said about how this works went over my head. So what is a flat plate? I guess before you answer that question, can you just generally describe the approach? What is it? What are you doing to convert CO2 into these other compounds?Austin Vernon (01:03:45):Well, yeah, it literally just looks like an electrolyzer. You have two sides and anode and a cathode and they're just smushed together like this because of the electrical resistance. If you put them far apart, it makes it... uses up a lot of energy. So you smush them together as close as you can. And then, you're basically just trading electrons back and forth. On one side, you're turning CO2 into a more complex molecule, and on the other side, you're taking apart water. And so, when you take apart the water, it balances out the equation, balances out your electrons and everything like that. I probably need to work on that elevator pitch there, huh?Dwarkesh Patel (01:04:31):I guess what the basic idea is, you need to put power in to convert CO2 into these other compounds.Austin Vernon (01:04:38):The inputs are electricity, water, and CO2, and the output is usually oxygen and whatever chemical you're trying to create is, along with some side reactions.Dwarkesh Patel (01:04:49):And then, these chemicals you mentioned, I think ethanol, methane, formic acid, are these all just fuels or what are the other uses for them?Austin Vernon (01:04:58):A lot of people are taking a hybrid approach with carbon monoxide. So this would be like Twelve Co… They've raised a lot of money to do this and 100 employees or something. You can take that carbon monoxide and make hydrogen, and then you have to send gas to make liquid fuels. So they want to make all sorts of chemicals, but one of the main volume ones would be like jet fuel.Austin Vernon (01:05:22):Let's see Formic acid is, it's the little fry of all these. It is an additive in a lot of things like preserving hay for animals and stuff like that. Then, ethanol there's people that want to... There's this company that makes ethylene, which goes into plastics that makes polyethylene, which is the most produced plastic. Or you can burn it in your car, although I think ethanol is a terrible vehicle fuel. But then you can also just make ethylene straight in the electrolyzer. So there's many paths. So which path wins is an interesting race to see.Dwarkesh Patel (01:06:13):The ability to produce jet fuel is really interesting, because in your energy superabundance paper, you talk about... You would think that even if we can electrify everything in solar and when it becomes super cheap, that's not going to have an impact on the prices to go to space for example. But I don't know. If a process like this is possible, then it's some way to in financial terms, add liquidity. And then turn, basically, this cheap solar and wind into jet fuel through this indirect process. So the price to send stuff to space or cheap plane flights or whatever––all of that goes down as well.Austin Vernon (01:06:52):It basically sets a price ceiling on the price of oil. Whatever you can produce this for is the ceiling now, which is maybe the way I think about it.Dwarkesh Patel (01:07:06):Yeah. So do you want to talk a little bit about how your background led into this project? This is your full-time thing, right? I don't know if I read about that, but where did you get this idea and how long have you been pursuing it? And what's the progress and so on.Austin Vernon (01:07:20):I've always loved chemical engineering, and I love working at the big processing plant because it's like being a kid in a candy store. If I had extra time, I'd just walk around and look at the plant, like it's so cool. But the plant where I worked at, their up time was 99.7%. So if you wanted to change anything or do anything new, it terrified everyone. That's how they earned their bonuses: run the plant a 100% uptime all the time. So that just wasn't a good fit for me. And also, so I always wanted my own chemical plant, but it's billions of dollars to build plants so that was a pretty big step. So I think this new technology of... there's a window where you might be able to build smaller plants until it optimizes to be hard to enter again.Dwarkesh Patel (01:08:21):And then, why will it become hard to enter again? What will happen?Austin Vernon (01:08:27):If someone figures out how to build a really cheap electrolyzer, and they just keep it as intellectual property, then it would be hard to rediscover that and compete with them.Dwarkesh Patel (01:08:38):And so, how long have you been working on this?Austin Vernon (01:08:42):Oh, not quite a year. But yeah, I actually got this idea to work on it from writing my blog. So when I wrote the heating fuel post, I didn't really know much about... There's another company in the space, Prometheus Fuels and I'm like, "Oh, this is an interesting idea." And then, I got talking to a guy named Brian Heligman, and he's like, "You should do this, but not what Prometheus is doing." And so, then I started looking at it and I liked it, so I've been working on it since.Dwarkesh Patel (01:09:08):Yeah. It's interesting because if energy does become as cheap as you suspect it might. If this process works, then yeah, this is a trillion dollar company probably, right? If you're going to get the patents and everything.Austin Vernon (01:09:22):I mean, maybe. With chemical plants, there's a certain limitation where your physical limitation is. There's only so many places that are good places for chemical plants. You start getting hit by transportation and all that. So, you can't just produce all the chemical for the entire world in Texas and transport it all around. It wouldn't work. So you're talking about a full, globe-spanning thing. At that point, if y